Local filmmaker David B Dacosta is raising questions about race, culture and stereotypes through two seemingly very different films.
The first, a short titled Re, takes place in 2017, when all African people living outside the continent must repatriate. It’s a concept that stemmed from Dacosta’s own experience with racism while growing up in Toronto during the late ’70s and early ’80s.
“There was a fair amount of racism we’ll say on a regular basis. It wasn’t the ‘N word;’ it was ‘go back to Africa,'” says Dacosta, who has worked as a journalist for more than 20 years and working in film off and on since 2007, adding he intentionally did not include a great deal of background for the situation in the film.
However, Dacosta notes there are still elements of racism in society despite this growth. His hope is that the film will prompt viewers to become more curious and inclined to learn about other cultures, rather than relying on preconceived notions.
“I believe that blacks the world over are not valued the way they should be,” he says. “I think if you think of black people in the narrative that’s out there internationally, black people were slaves and, come on now, we’ve been on this planet for thousands of years. Slavery was, in the scope of history, slavery was just the other day.”
Dacosta’s second film jumps from repatriating Africa and over to the rastafari culture of Jamaica with Rasta-I-zation. The feature-length documentary paints a much more detailed picture than the weed-smoking hippie image perpetuated by popular culture.
“The rasta movement really came out of people of African ancestry living in Jamaica rebelling against Christianity, which is interesting considering Haile Selassie I, who is the sacred head of rastafari, he was a Christian,” notes Dacosta, who is Jamaican but does not identify as rastafari. “It is really one love as Bob Marley says, to some extent, but it really is heavily Afro-centric. … It’s really about black empowerment, black upliftment, recognizing your history. It’s not about separating us from anybody, because obviously you can see the music reaches the world.”
He’s speaking of Marley’s work as well as the rasta influences in popular music, though most people do not understand the roots of that sound and lifestyle—some refer to it as a religion or form of alternative spirituality, Dacosta notes. Rasta-I-zation clears up some of that through interviews with a professor, activists, artists and even Marley’s granddaughter, while reinforcing the fact that those who identify as rastafari were not widely accepted in Jamaica, which is often the perception.
“Bob Marley was not a star to the average person in Jamaica. He was seen as a hooligan,” Dacosta adds. “It’s a very multi-layered society. Your education dictates your social status, so it’s not just one monolith of people.”
Thu, Nov 27 (7:30 pm)