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By BOTWC staff
Published: 17 October 2023

Black history is being highlighted in some new ways at the Vancouver International Film Festival!

This year’s festival included the feature-length documentary, “Union Street,” which documents the history of Hogan’s Alley in Vancouver, Canada. The formerly Black neighborhood was destroyed by the construction of the Georgia viaduct in the 1970s. The doc intersperses interviews with archival footage to tell the story of the historic community. The documentary is from acclaimed filmmaker Jamila Pomeroy, who said it was inspired by her childhood.

“Growing up in the suburbs, my family was the only Black family in our neighborhood, and we dealt with a lot of racism and often felt othered,” Pomeroy told Daily Hive. “My dad taught us to wear our differences proudly, but underneath it all, we longed to have access to a Black community and physical place that would accept our culture.”

Pomeroy continued to explain that the film also showcases how African Canadians remain affected by systemic racism to this day. “When I moved to Vancouver as a teen and connected with more Black Vancouverites, I realized that many people felt the same as me: underrepresented,” she added. “It really drove me to tailor my projects to highlight the African-Canadian experience. For African Canadian viewers, I want them to know that their experiences are valid and that, together, we can self-organize to cultivate a community that is culturally vibrant and unapologetically Black. And I want non-Black viewers to understand that Black culture is not a monolith, is nuanced, and so much more than the Black culture you see in media.”

Breathing new life into the old neighborhood

According to the festival’s website, histories of now-closed Black-owned businesses in Hogan’s Alley, such as Vie’s Chicken and Steakhouse, have inspired a new generation of Black business owners in the neighborhood. The Black Lives Matter movement has reinvigorated discussion surrounding the destruction, as well as the history and memory of Hogan’s Alley. The festival refers to the doc as “beautifully filmed” and that the “visual portrait speaks to the legacies of the past, as well as the present moment.”

This article was originally posted to BOTWC

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