In 1998, Jamaican-Canadian author Nalo Hopkinson wrote her first book Brown Girl in the Ring, an Afrofuturistic story about a young woman in a dystopian, class-driven Toronto finding her power as a supernatural evil threatens her community. It’s a futuristic tale combining mysticism, magic and Caribbean folklore and one of the cannons of Afrofuturism. Canadian actor, writer and director Sharon Lewis decided to bring the story to the big screen in 2017 with her adaptation called Brown Girl Begins.
Ti-Jeanne (Mouna Traoré) is a young woman who must make a big decision. It’s 2049, and Toronto has been harshly divided by class, banishing those without means to an island called “The Burn.” Ti-Jeanne carries a legacy of magic and must harness it to save her community from drugs, demons and hopelessness. When her feelings develop for Tony (Emmanuel Kabongo), she wants to explore them, but she must choose between love and protecting her community from the many encroaching threats.
Brown Girl Begins brings us a unique look at technology, folklore, and a specific Caribbean vernacular that’s relatable to everyone who watches. The film is full of Black Canadian talents like Toronto’s own opera diva, Measha Brueggergosman, jazz singer and actor Shakura S’Aida, and film and stage veteran Nigel Shawn Williams.