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The New Hollywood North: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall

The Black Bodies director on her big break, her favourite films and what movie she’d make with $1 billion

The New Hollywood North: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall

Known for: Black Bodies, a short film about racism in the 21st century

First filmmaking experience: “When I was in ninth grade, at Rick Hansen Secondary in Mississauga, I brought my mom’s camcorder to school and filmed my friends freestyle rapping.”

Why you decided to become a director: “Growing up, I wasn’t seeing any positive representations of young Black people on TV. I wanted to change that.”

Your big break: “When my first short film, Haven, premiered at SXSW. It’s about a Black girl watching television with her mother. We made it in my producer Tamar Bird’s apartment for $0.”

Something every young director should know: “No matter how many directors are out there, you have your own voice, and nobody can do what you do.”

Desert island movie:Poetic Justice by John Singleton. There are so many layers to it I haven’t uncovered yet, and I see myself in multiple characters.”

Movie you’ve watched the most times: “The Harry Potter franchise. I was born in Britain, and I feel like they’re all based around Christmas, so they’re my holiday go-to.”

Favourite director: “Ava DuVernay. She tells stories for the Black community.”

Hollywood star you most want to work with: “Mahershala Ali. I would love to write a beautiful character-based film for him and watch him carry it.”

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Most memorable celebrity interaction: “After Black Bodies premiered at Sundance, I tweeted about my disappointment in the lack of support from Canada. Ava DuVernay retweeted it, and I went viral.”

Favourite cinema snack: “Popcorn slathered with butter.”

Toughest part about directing: “I’m very impatient, but filmmaking, from start to finish, takes a lot of time.”

One simple fix that would improve the film industry in Canada: “Our studios need to invest more in Canadian artists. That way, we don’t have to leave for the US.”

Someone gives you a $1-billion budget. What movie do you make? “An alien apocalypse film featuring a Black family.”

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Would you rather win an Oscar for best director or direct the highest grossing film of all time? “Direct the highest grossing film. As a Black female, I think some of the awards spaces have lost touch. I’d prefer for the audience, not awards bodies, to decide what’s good.”

Your next project: “My feature debut, When Morning Comes, is in post-production. It’s an immigration story about a nine-year-old Jamaican boy who finds out he’s being sent to Canada for a better life. It’s my love letter to Jamaica.”

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The New Hollywood North: Up close and personal with the city’s new superstars

The actors, directors, showrunners, producers and other Toronto talent making waves right now

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