The 8th edition of the Toronto Black Film Festival is in full effect, taking over venues across Toronto’s downtown core. On tap are some of the best short films and features from over 20 countries.
One of the standout shorts was the Nathan Hale Williams-directed Burden, an at-times comedic look at racism and prejudice in America. True to its name, the film explores the many stereotypes surrounding Black men and the burden they often feel―the burden of being feared, rejected and never good enough― and the resulting anger that comes with it.
Husband and father, Bennett Lewis (played by Nic Few), is a Managing Director at a talent management company. Despite his success within the firm, he still finds himself on the outside looking in and at risk of losing his job. He learns the hard way that success is not enough to be accepted.
Viewers are treated to a glimpse into the daily life of a Black man in America as he is feared while sharing an elevator with a white female, then questioned about his ability to afford expensive items at a jewellery store. Other stereotypes surrounding Black athletes and police officers are also highlighted. In the end, this film doesn’t simply address the topic and leave audiences hanging. It offers some sound advice for Black people grappling with the burden of rejection and prejudice―”protect your heart”.
Director Nathan Hale-Williams should be credited for doing an excellent job of tackling such a serious subject and breaking it down in a way that people of all ethnicities can understand. Coupled with great acting and comedic timing from lead actor, Nic Few, this short has been one of the best so far at this year’s edition of the Toronto Black Film Festival.
If you are someone who truly wants to understand what it’s like to walk a mile in the shoes of a Black man in North America, or if you are a Black man feeling like you are on the outside looking in, Burden is a great place to start.