Selwyn Jacob receives the Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta’s Outstanding Achievement Award

NFB Producer Selwyn Jacob
Courtesy NFB

By Pat Mullen

National Film Board of Canada (NFB) producer Selwyn Jacob received the Outstanding Achievement Award at Edmonton’s FAVA FEST this weekend. The prize recognizes Jacob’s outstanding accomplishment, contribution to media art, and body of work. Fava Fest is the annual festival of the Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta.

Jacob’s credits as a producer with the NFB include documentaries such as Charles Officer’s Mighty Jerome, Linda Ohama’s Obâchan’s Garden, for which he earned a Genie nomination for Best Documentary Feature, and most recently, Mina Shum’s acclaimed Ninth Floor. The latter doc is a searing portrait of the 1969 Sir George Williams University Riot in Montreal in which a group Black students protested a racist faculty member and occupied a floor in the campus computer centre in what would prove to be a watershed moment in Canadian race relations. Ninth Floor is a highlight in Jacob’s career-long effort to explore the experiences of Black Canadians and other underrepresented members of the multicultural mosaic.

“When your chosen subjects are from communities that have been subjugated and marginalized historically, it can be very difficult to get at the truth, to uncover the stories of the past in an honest and useful way,” said Dave Cunningham, Executive Director, Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta, in a release from the NFB. “One of the things that I’ve admired most in Selwyn’s work is his unique ability to get at the truth and to bring his audience along with him on a journey of discovery and sometimes… revelation.”

A native of Trinidad, Jacob came to Canada in 1968 to study at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He joined the NFB as a producer in 1997 after directing the Gemini Award winning feature The Road Taken about Canadian railroad porters and the short Carol’s Mirror for the Board.

Jacob is currently completing work on two interactive essays that will be featured as part of Legacies 150, an upcoming NFB #Canada150 online project.

Watch a video tribute to Jacob that screened at FAVA FEST here.