Bell Media teams up with all-Black executive production team to develop Canada’s first, Black-focused, bilingual anthology series, Festivale

From a media release:

Bell Media and francophone executive producers Marie Ka and Richard Jean-Baptiste, and anglophone executive producers, Damon D’Oliveira and Clement Virgo, have teamed up to develop FESTIVALE, Canada’s first bilingual anthology series, by and about, Black Canadians. Produced for Bell Media’s Crave, FESTIVALE is a collaboration between Crave’s French and English development teams, and an answer to the lack of Black francophone stories on mainstream television.

This breakthrough series also serves as a pre-development incubator administered by the BSO, supporting creative teams who have not had the opportunity to produce content for a large network. This initiative aligns with BSO’s talent development mandate to build bridges between broadcasters and content creators; connect participants with resources; and foster relationships to cultivate strong pipelines of talent.

“FESTIVALE is a groundbreaking experience where Black Canadian writers, both French and English, get the chance to finally work together on the same project,” said executive producers, Marie Ka, Richard Jean-Baptiste, Damon D’Oliveira and Clement Virgo. “We can’t thank Bell Media enough for bridging the language gap, and lending their support to this timely creative journey. Our hope is that this project will be the starting point for future collaborations with Bell Media, for all our participants.”

“We are thrilled to provide support to this important initiative, and applaud Bell Media and Crave for its openness to engage in the work to accelerate system change,” says Joan Jenkinson, Executive Director, BSO. “The collaboration among this array of talented Black writers and producers is wonderful to see, and we look forward to the outcome.”

“As Bell Media continues to work on creating equitable creative space and opportunities, collaborations like this are vital to our collective success,” said Karine Moses, Senior Vice President, Content Development & News, Bell Media. “Thank you to this visionary executive production team, and the BSO, for bringing FESTIVALE to Bell Media, and partnering with us to help develop and champion incredible Black talent.”

The Incubator will also serve as a hybrid story room for writers to develop episodic ideas, with the assistance and experience of Showrunner, Adam Pettle. By the end of the process, the writing team will have completed six outlines for the proposed anthology series, and have the opportunity to pitch it to Bell Media network executives.

Along with Pettle, the writing room will be staffed with Black francophone writers, Kimberley Ann Surin, Josiane Blanc, along with writing team Kadidja Haïdara and Seydou Junior Haïdara; and three Black anglophone writers, Adeline Bird, Andrew Burrows Trotman, and Anika Jarrett.

Four Black francophone producers, Maeva Montemiglio, Malcom Odd, Sabrina Roc and Jephte Bastien; and two Black anglophone producers Mansa Chintoh and Jose Holder, are also involved in the incubator.

Comprised of six stand-alone episodes, FESTIVALE focuses on authentic new voices that evoke the Black Canadian experience. Set against the backdrop of a blistering Montréal heatwave, the series explores themes of appropriation, identity, belonging, and the transcendent nature of love, in all its many forms. Each episode follows complex characters grappling with situations that reveal their humanity, anchored through their journeys that cut through stereotypes, and resonate with authenticity. Episodes, whether in English or French, may also feature multilingual dialogue.

Now in pre-development, the anthology series is financed by Bell Media, with development funding from the Canadian Media Fund’s Pilot Project Racialized Communities (PPRC) fund. Incubator funding is supported by the BSO-TD Bank Mentorship Program.

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