A familiar face around Ontario theatre who’s worked with The Shaw Festival, The Factory, Convergence, Hart House, First Act Productions and more, Howard J. Davis is making his mark in a different medium these days. We caught up with him to get the latest on his new short film C’est Moi.
What is C’est Moi about?
C’est Moi is about a woman in 18th century New France (nowadays Montreal) who was tortured, tried and sentenced to death for burning down the city of Montreal. Did she set the fire? Or was she the scapegoat for blame? A Canadian Joan of Arc in her own right, Marie-Josèphe Angélique was an emblem of resilience against slavery in Canada.
Why is this story important in our current social and political climate?
As Canadians I believe we often look at our involvement with slavery through rose tinted glasses and somehow any trace of history that we may not like has disappeared from our collective consciousness. I believe it is important to have these discussions given our current climate on racial issues not only at home but throughout the world and not only within the Black community but the Indigenous, Asian and other communities. As a mixed race man I can acknowledge that my heritage is an extensive discourse of injustice, intolerance and racial discrimination and, as much as I think that we a humans should move on and get along, it is also important to be accountable for our actions and recognize all injustices of our history as opposed to marginalizing and erasing it from our collective identity. How can we ever venture forward to being more tolerant and accepting of one another unless we learn from history?
Tell us about the filmmaking process thus far.
The story was conceived 8 years ago while I attended Ryerson Theatre School in Toronto and took many forms from a play, to a musical to finally a short film. Each medium has informed the other and the music originally scored as the climatic song of the musical is in the final film (but there is no singing). The film was shot on location in Montreal in September 2016, post production was in October 2016 and the film has now been submitted to various festivals in Canada, the United States and the world. There is also an Indiegogo Campaign to help towards film festival submissions.
Who are some of the people involved in the film?
This film has a very small but exciting creative team. The actress Jenny Brizard (a native of Montreal) plays our lead character Marie-Joséphe Angélique and I’m the man wearing all the hats on this film from directing, producing and editing.
What are your hopes for the film from here?
My hopes for the film is that it exposes a part of our history that is not known by enough people, especially Canadians. I’ve submitted and hope that it is co-ordinated to premiere at the various festivals, particularly those that aim to share emerging artists and stories of minorities. On a personal note, my hope would be to continue to create film with an emphasis on taking historical context and bringing it to the modern lense.