The Barbecue

February 10, 2016

It is Black History and maybe that is why I have been thinking that being black in Canada is probably no picnic.

This hit home to me when I was in high school and I remember observing the one black guy in the huge Lord Selkirk Comprehensive Secondary School in Selkirk, Manitoba. Even in the way that he walked, he looked lonely and very self-conscious.

When I played the part of a more than slightly tipsy Liz Taylor type in a film called The Barbecue that was made in Winnipeg, Manitoba, I realized the stupid side of being racist.

This was because the Winston Moxam, the film maker, is a black man and he used his writing skills to more-than-poke-fun at the white characters in the movie. To underline how ridiculous oppression is, is a way for the oppressed to become empowered. To laugh at the opposition or the enemy is a way to disarm him or her on a variety of levels.

This piece was written by a daily newspaper journalist about Moxam and The Barbecue:

The Winnipeg Sun

Thursday, August 18, 1994

People Today

by Riva Harrison

Winston Washington Moxam doesn’t need to pop a Spike Lee tape into his VCR to learn about racism — he has his own stories about growing up in a neighborhood hostile to blacks.

“Being beaten up a lot, being called all those names because of the color of my skin…I had a lot of heartache,” says the local film-maker, who came to Winnipeg’s North End from Jamaica as a child.

“Even today, people tend to see you for your skin color.”

Moxam’s own experiences with racism are reflected in his work, and his latest film, The Barbeque , is no exception. It opens Saturday, with three other local flicks, at the Winnipeg Film Group’s 20 Anniversary Premiere.

The comedy-drama, about a young black woman’s encounter with her ex-boyfriend’s family, attempts to mirrow the covert brand of racism found in Manitoba.

Unlike some parts of the United States — where cross-burnings are a regular social event — Canadian racism tends to be more subtle, even polite, making it tough for people to react, Moxam says.

Although big bucks are spent spreading goodwill among different ethnic communities, the notion that we live in racial harmony falls flat with Moxam.

“That’s not the case. I thought ‘Maybe if we have this film, we can talk about it (racism), get it out in the open.’ ”

Moxam, 31, is pleased with final results of his 45-minute film which was produced on a $17,000 budget and relied on local actors with extremely limited experience.

“If this film does or doesn’t go anywhere, at least I have a clear conscience as a film-maker. I had to do something for my community. If not, what am I doing here?”

The Barbecue is his sixth film and follows a documentary he produced two years ago on homeless minorities in Toronto.

He’s writing a piece about a black woman who was executed in Canada in 1956 for killing her husband in self-defense.

The incident, based on several true stories, is told through the eyes of her son.

Moxam, also a projectionist at Cinematheque, surprisingly never tires of the movies.

“You watch films and you learn. You apply that to your craft. I really count myself lucky,” says Moxam, who studied film production at Confederation College in Thunder Bay…..

— END–

 

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