Looking at Nadine Valcin’s body of work, is like opening a window on the past. Valcin consistently breaks open traditional black narratives and shows us what we should be thinking and talking about in our combined futures. While emerging filmmakers may be all the rage, Nadine Valcin proves that there is something to be said for a consistent exploration of black narratives — and she has the track record to prove it.
As an award-winning bilingual producer, writer and director, Nadine’s work has been shown on television networks across Canada and the U.S. She has directed four documentary projects for the National Film Board of Canada, including the critically-acclaimed Black, Bold and Beautiful (1999) and Une école sans frontières (2008). Nadine has been awarded two prestigious Chalmers Arts Fellowships and a Drama Prize from the NSI. She is an alumna of Doc Lab and Women in the Director’s Chair, was artist-in-residence at Osgoode Hall Law School and the recipient of the 2016 WIFT-T/DGC Ontario Director Mentorship. She is currently an MFA student in Digital Futures at OCADU and is currently developing the VR experience Ghosts of Remembrance about the forgotten history of slavery in Canada.
Read Nadine’s thoughts on the erasure of black bodies, finding your audience as a filmmaker and taking big risks for big results. Then scroll down to watch her incredible experimental documentary ‘Whitewash’ on the topic of slavery in Canada.
Q: What I love about Whitewash is the focus on bodies and skin textures combined with an experimental soundscape. Can you talk a little about why you chose to illustrate this narrative with only faces and bodies?
A: The piece was produced as part of an artist residency at Osgoode Hall Law School. It had a limited budget and I wanted to illustrate how assimilation and erasure were at play in the physical quasi-invisibility of the historically Black population on Prince Edward Island. I say quasi, because some of them aren’t necessarily identifiable as Black at first sight although many of them are very proud of that heritage and make a point of claiming that identity. I chose 9 women and girls of African descent to illustrate the 9 generations of descendants of enslaved Africans brought by some of the white Loyalists who settled on PEI.
A: I do both very personal and political work and what I would call more mainstream. As an artist, I have often relied on freelance employment for independent producers or public broadcasters to earn a living.
A: Get out there and make films, you can shoot an experimental short with your iPhone or a DSLR camera and edit it on your personal computer. The technology is so much more accessible now, take advantage of it. Take risks, make mistakes, don’t let people convince you that your vision isn’t valid just because it doesn’t conform to their notions of what a film should be, but do carefully consider the opinion of people you trust.