This Friday views about women, their sexual orientation and multiculturalism hit the silver screen in the third annual Mpenzi: Black Women’s International Film & Video Festival.


Founded by activist and festival director Adonica Huggins, Mpenzi creates a forum for those voices and stories that often go untold in more mainstream film festivals.


“Our mission is to identify, screen and promote independent works from established and emerging directors, producers and writers from straight, lesbian, bisexual, queer or questioning black women and black transgendered, transsexual and inter-sexed women and men,” says Huggins.


Mpenzi, a Swahili word that loosely translates to “one who loves” or “one who is loved,” grew out of a small lesbian women’s organization where movie nights were a hit. After joining the group five years ago, Huggins decided to turn the movie night into a celebrated annual festival — a festival that is helping female artists of all sexual orientations feel good about themselves.


“It is a very empowering feeling to actually have a full festival program where I can actually see films about myself .... it’s about the issues that impact me,” says film director and writer Natalie Wood, who will screen her three minute short, Call Me Daisy at the festival this year.

The festival will also feature the work of six young females, ranging in age from 11-to-14-years-old, who come together in their directorial debut of The Hijab.

In the film, the girls, who are part of the Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre program, explore the beliefs and values of the hijab and it’s significance to Islam.

“The piece raises fundamental questions about Canada’s commitment to multiculturalism and diversity through the eyes and experience of youth,” says Regent Park arts program producer Adonis Huggins.

For more on Mpenzi visit

mpenzi film festival

  • When: Friday Feb. 16 at 6:30 to 9 p.m.

  • Where: Medical Sciences Building Auditorium at the University of Toronto, 1 King's College Circle