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22 Jul 2020

“I Didn’t Come This Far, To Only Come This Far": New Documentary Series Featured

There’s an ambitious docu-series on YouTube titled ‘This Far’. The 30 episode project features successful Canadian immigrants and first-generation Canadians. Each episode runs about 10 minutes long and offers an in-depth- yet not overbearing- gaze into the subject’s trials, tribulations and triumphs of living and growing in Canada. It’s the exquisite, personal story told in 30 unique ways. The chilled background beat along with quick cuts and colloquial graphics perhaps offers a hint as to who’s behind the series.

Recording artist and nascent documentarian who goes by the moniker Borelson, conceptualized and co-directed the series. The millennial immigrated to Canada from France with a goal of connecting with African-Canadian diasporic communities through art.

"In 2016 I came up with my own acronym, or “bacronym”, FAR. FAR is the same in French and English. It means: “F” faith/Focus, in French it’s Fois/Focus, “A” stands for Action, same in French and “R” stands for resilience, same in French. I see myself as someone who’s come from far away and also someone who wants to go far in life. So that was the foundation for my recent music and my documentary series. I was writing a song about my own personal journey, I was inspired by a podcast I listened to titled,“I didn’t come this far, to only come this far.” It really resonated with me. It made me think deeper about what I really wanted to do with my life. So, I was inspired to write a song about my personal journey which I called ‘This Far’ and I created the documentary concept of people telling their own stories as well."

Born in the Central African nation of Gabon, Borelson moved to France with his family in his early teens. Although he grew up speaking French, the Afro- francophone artist had an affinity for English-speaking African diasporic art and culture. It was this attraction that compelled him to immigrate to Canada and settle in Toronto just a few years ago.

"What I’ve observed in Toronto since I moved here, I’ve always been and so far am still impressed with so many talented people and successful people in Toronto. Reading the stats, I realized that Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. According to Stats Canada more than 50% of people living in Toronto actually don’t come from Toronto. So, I realized many people in this city must have a similar story to mine. You leave your home, move to a new place hoping that you’re going to get a better life. Plus, if you’re originally from a warm country and move to a place that’s cold 6 months out of the year, that means you really believe that this country has something that you cannot find anywhere else."

Borelson, whose English is laced with a cool blend of Fang, Bantu and French, reminisces how he found himself at the right place, at the right time in 2018 at the opening of Artscape Launchpad in Toronto, the newest art and community building by Artscape.

"Launchpad had a mixer, some bilingual artists just gravitated to each other and I started to share my idea about a documentary with filmmaker Gabriel Couture who liked my idea. That (sic) was quick. The next day we were discussing the technical aspects of my idea. Together we built a pitch and we went to talk to Launchpad and straight away they said yes, we’ll support your project."

Any hesitation moving into a new artistic field?

"Most of my music videos, I’m always involved in the creative process. I’m co-directing...and every director that I was working with would say, 'You should actually try to be a director. You’re so involved and have vision on everything that you want to accomplish, you should try to do that.' And that’s what I did."

Once filming began in 2019, Borelson and team laid into the project with such laser focus even a historic Raptors NBA championship final win couldn’t deter the crew from the work. 

"The day we finished shooting was June 13th. We finished filming after the second quarter was over. We wrapped and then we ran to watch the rest of the game!

There are many notable figures in the series such as radio and TV host Amanda Parris and Sandbox Studios CEO, Kiana “Rookz” Eastmond, was it difficult securing 30 subjects?

"At first we had a wish list, we set a list of 20 people. We sent out the call and to our surprise, 95% said yes. Of those people who took part, they recommended others and that’s how it grew to 30 people. It was a huge blessing and I’m very grateful for all who took part.

We made sure in the documentary we had people from as many backgrounds as possible. We have people from various domains such as culture, entertainment, software development, real estate, law. We really wanted to show it’s possible to be anything you want and not just stick to what society expects you to be because of your colour or your background. 

We have the Southern African word ‘Ubuntu’, which is the philosophy about ‘I am because we are’. So it’s never about just me but about my tribe. This film is a reflection of Ubuntu."

This Far is streaming on YouTube at “This Far Doc” and on Instagram TV.

Rosey Edeh spent a decade (2005-2015) bringing the latest entertainment and pop culture news to the masses as a senior reporter on Global TV’s ET Canada. Building on her vast experience as a news anchor and TV personality as seen on CNN, MSNBC and Global News, Rosey has founded an award-winning production company, Micha Muse Media Inc. Movies, plays, art exhibits, good books and all things track and field get this journalist, filmmaker and three-time Olympian excited for life. Human connection, struggle and triumph, maintain Rosey’s mission to tell meaningful and even entertaining stories that hopefully offer readers insight, depth and even a little levity. Twitter: @roseyedeh

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Read 397 times Last modified on Monday, 27 July 2020 13:06
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