World Poetry Celebrates Producer Selwyn Jacob & The Ninth Floor!

Celebrating Black History Month!

Reprinted from TAN, The Afro News, http://www.theafronews.com/

A must see film and special interview with Selwyn Jacob!

The Ninth Floor, a powerful film of race relations and history, produced by the well known Selwyn Jacob; written and directed by Mina Shum will be shown at the Vancity Theatre, www.viff.org/ February 15-16 at 6:30 pm. Please go see the film!

The Ninth Floor was voted as one of the Top Ten Canadian film and is now showing across Canada.

This 81-minute documentary Ninth Floor revisits the infamous 1969 Sir George Williams Riot at Montreal’s Concordia University, a watershed moment in Canadian race relations. More than four decades later, Shum takes us back to one of the most contested episodes in the nation’s history and listens as protagonists in Trinidad and Montreal set the record straight and lay their burden down. Ninth Floor is written and directed by Mina Shum, produced by Selwyn Jacob and executive produced by Shirley Vercruysse for the NFB’s Pacific and Yukon Centre in Vancouver.”

I was honoured to be able to interview Selwyn Jacob, the producer of the Ninth Floor, who has worked with the National Film Board since 1997 at their Pacific and Yukon Studio in Vancouver and whose mission has been to educate the public through film. The Ninth Floor is one such example.

During the interview with Mr. Jacob, several important points emerged:

The long term connection of the producer to the film, which in some ways has been parallel to his life; the need to portray a balanced and unbiased depiction of the events of the occupation, the ability to make the film now using a Canadian perspective and to get the support needed that he would not be able to get in the 1970’s to make the film.

In addition, the Ninth Floor shows how the participants and the descendents were affected after the event in during the 1969 Sir George Williams Riot. They are still carrying the burden of their experiences of the event. One other element raised in the film was that hateful words do great damage and remain in the mind, long after the event has passed.

In addition, Selwyn Jacob had the following suggestions on improving racial relations:

*Do not prejudge people based on dress or accent. * Be tolerant of others. * Be self reflective in your interactions. *Use the 9th Floor as a cautionary tale.

I would like to thank Selwyn Jacob for his wisdom and insights during the interview.

Mr. Jacob says: “I’ve wanted to make Ninth Floor ever since I became a filmmaker, some forty years ago. I’ve always felt a direct connection to the events at Sir George Williams. I, too, immigrated to Canada from the Caribbean in the late 1960s, and I could easily have ended up in Montreal alongside those students. And with the passage of time, I’ve come to realize how the story resonates for all Canadians.”  Selwyn Jacobs, Producer of the 9th Floor.

Selwyn Jacob has produced close to 50 NFB films such as Crazywater, directed by the Inuvialuit filmmaker Dennis Allen; Hue: A Matter of Colour, a co-production withSepia Films, directed by Vic Sarin; Mighty Jerome, written and directed by Charles Officer; and the digital interactive project Circa 1948, by Vancouver artist Stan Douglas. Released in 2010, Mighty Jerome addresses issues of race and nationalism while paying tribute to Harry Jerome.  One of the His recent credits include Ninth Floor, a feature documentary about the infamous Sir George Williams Riot of 1969. Written and directed by the acclaimed director Mina Shum, it’s a story that Jacob has wanted to bring to the screen for decades.

Sources: The National Film Board, the Afro News and the interview with Mr. Jacob.

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