March 24, 2023

Award Winning “1960” Film Premieres at the Ottawa Black Film  Festival 2023

By Joy Osiagwu

The La Novelle Scene Giles Desjardins on King Edward Ave, Ottawa, came alive on Friday, March 24, at 7 pm. The crowd puller was the official opening night of the 3rd Annual Ottawa Black Film Festival and the Ontario Premiere of the Film 1960 by King Shaft and Michael Mutombo.

The crème de la crème of Ottawa and members of the African diplomatic community came through for Black creatives at the red-carpet event. In addition, the festival’s diverse programming migrated to a hybrid model this year with its first In -Person offering in the Canadian capital city.

Wideshot of guests on the red carpet at the event

With about 40 films and numerous panels, Fabienne Colas, a Canadian of Haitian ancestry, actress, director, producer, and head of the Fabienne Colas Foundation says it targets the Canadian public and communities to showcase the talent of creators from various backgrounds.

Fabienne Colas, actress, director, producer, and head of the Fabienne Colas Foundation

Former Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean was a special guest at the premiere. Contentment and fulfillment radiated in her remarks of satisfaction with the exceptional work of the creatives in the Black community through the leadership of the Colas Foundation.

Former Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean (left) & Fabienne Colas (right)

 She said ” Being Black is about opportunities. We have diverse talents, and I am glad they get to share our stories through creative works of art such as films. We must tell our stories of resilience even though we still have a long way to go.”

Honourable Jean paid tribute to the High Commissioner of Canada, His Excellency Rieaz Shaik who attended the event. The former Governor General recalled the influence of Nelson Mandela’s messages of perseverance and resilience worldwide. She spoke of attractive offerings from the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, soon to add significant value to the works of Black creatives in Canada.

The Movie 1960

Although some viewers related the movie with the narrative of South African apartheid, 1960 was more of a love story and life, set in the era of apartheid South Africa.

It all began in present-day Sharpeville near Johannesburg with a curious police officer’s investigation into the death of an apartheid-era policeman whose remains were discovered 60 years after his mysterious disappearance. Lindi, a famous retired singer, offered to help the officer unravel the mystery behind the death, as she takes him on a journey of her life adventure.

Shot from the movie screen- Lindi in conversation with the investigative Police officer


The movie features the love story of young Lindi, and her optimistic adventure into the world of music to shatter the proverbial glass ceiling, despite her humble and poor background and her father’s pessimism due to Lindi’s mother’s unfulfilled dream as a talented singer before her untimely death.

                                                          Shot from the movie screen.

 Her narrative brought nostalgic memories of South African artists in the era of apartheid who left indelible footprints on the sands of time, like Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela. Both were brilliant artists who made it to the pinnacle of their musical careers despite the political challenges at the time. They spoke truth to power through musical renditions, and they still live on in the hearts of fans, even in death. Lindi, the protagonist, is an excellent reminder of the era.

Shot from the movie screen. (Lindi performing at the bar)

The twists and turns in the movie created suspense, an excellent component of a great film. On the one hand, is the journey of an aspiring musician, and on the other is the episode of Lindi’s brother. He was a Black anti-apartheid activist who led a group to resist the government’s discriminatory laws. “At the end of the day, someone needs to do something.” He reiterated this in one of the scenes. Although he died as a martyr, he reminded the viewers of the struggles of Nelson Mandela, who survived to see freedom, and other activists in the era who died in the line of duty. The movie set in Sophiatown also brings back memories of the challenges at the time.

Shot from the movie screen.

Music, Visual, and SFX

The quality of visuals and the combination of music and sound effects were the “icings on the cake” of 1960. King Shaft and co-producer, co-writer, and composer Bruce Retief scored an all-time high while recreating the era’s music. But, of course, we are not surprised; Retief is a musician.

The message of the movie

Producers King Shaft, Michael Mutombo, co-producer Bruce Retief, and the team set out in the movie to let the world know that even amid so much pain in the era of apartheid, Black South Africans also experienced life and were able to attain success like Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, and so many unsung heroes. Yes, stories of massacres, as seen in the movie, dominated the news; however, people also led everyday lives.

The movie crew at DIFF 2020

1960 opened at the Durban International Film Festival in 2022 (DIFF 2020) and won the award for Best South African Feature Film.


Joy Osiagwu

Joy Osiagwu is a Project Officer with Black History Ottawa. She has over two decades of experience as a broadcast journalist in Nigeria and North America. She holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Cumbria in the United Kingdom, plus a post-graduate diploma in Broadcast Performing Arts from the Columbia Academy, Vancouver, British Columbia.