readers in the area of Toronto, Ontario should pay close attention to this news! Next week will mark the 8th Annual ReelWorld Film Festival and it promises to be fantastic! The entire festival is being held right in downtown Toronto and is not only exciting, but affordable, and by attending, you are supporting an amazing cause dear to the heart of former Y&R actress, Tonya Lee Williams (Dr. Olivia Barber)! would like to share with readers Tonya’s ReelWorld Conference speech from the March 20th press conference, which was held to launch the festival. Tonya’s speech contains some very important and timely commentary, while also providing insight as to why Tonya founded this organization and feels it is so worthwhile. Here it is:

” Thank you for attending our press conference. Yesterday Senator O’Bama addressed America on the racial issues that are now plaguing their election. The reason I bring this up is because the significance of those racial issues, are the very reasons I created ReelWorld. What Obama does in his speech is define the silent deadly racism that haunts us on a daily basis without our even recognizing it exists. As much as we would like to think that there is no racism in Canada, we need to recognize that racism is prevalent in every area of our 21st. century lives on this planet…and what are each and every one of us doing to eradicate it?

The power of the media is omnipotent. Nothing compares – the world of technology needs to be available to all. Our entertainment industry is now a synergized piece of that technology – television, films, internet, cell phones – all are now one and the same. The access we have to the World is unfathomable. It’s our responsibility to make sure that the images and stories we portray to the world are true and reliable. We need to empower rich and poor alike, racially diverse, religiously diverse, all, to be a part of it. It’s complex for us to understand the slight variances in each other’s cultures. It’s important for individuals who hail from those cultures to help bring to light what those complexities are. It would be irresponsible to allow individuals outside of those cultures, to tell those stories and shape our impressions by them. With the power of the media we can change the world for the better, without careful scrutiny of who’s in control of it, we could create negative stereotyping that can create chaos and the destruction of our basic humanities.

At ReelWorld this year, we present an important film Namibia; this 3-hour epic depicts the outrageous Apartheid that plagued that country for decades. The filmmaker Charles Burnett will be in attendance at ReelWorld to receive our ReelWorld Award of Excellence and to also be interviewed by film critic Cameron Bailey at our ReelSpeak. We are also pleased to present writer, producer, advocate Fil Frasier our Tony Stoltz ReelWorld Visionary Award for his life’s work in levelling the playing field in the Canadian entertainment industry for Artists of Colour.

Our many Awards will be presented this year on Sunday April 6, 11am at Manyata Café sponsored by Cineplex Media.

Thank you to all the Board of Directors from ReelWorld Film Festival and from ReelWorld Foundation, for their hard work and support throughout the year.

Thank you also to the Staff and Volunteers, without whose help we could never have the quality festival we have. I am inspired every day by their commitment to ReelWorld. And thank you so much to our Sponsors…our new Sponsors and in particular the Sponsors who support us year after year. It lifts my heart to know that you all share the same vision as ReelWorld and that you not only support with your encouragement, but with the much needed funds that allow the festival to exist.

And a final thank you to the media – you have been there for us from the start – you bring the message of ReelWorld to the masses – your support is tantamount to the success of this festival and I’m deeply grateful.” ~Tonya Lee Williams