Normally a winter festival that takes place during Black History Month, Massimadi Montréal is taking to the streets this weekend to bring live performances and film screenings to Little Burgundy.
Laurent Lafontant, the festival's director, told CBC's Daybreak that since the 2021 edition of the event was held online due to the pandemic, organizing an in-person event was an opportunity to bring community members together.
He said the event was made possible by a grant from the City of Montreal aimed at cultural development.
"We decided to have an open-air event to find the sense of community so that people can be together and experience an Afro-queer event."
Lafontant said the event, which runs from Sept. 11 to 18, will include outdoor film projections, live performances, art installations and a drag show highlighting Black artists.
The site is equipped with three wooden cabins, decorated by Montreal artist Kezna Dalz, also known by her artist name Teenadult.
The cabins house an audio and video system for the continuous viewing of a cycle of short films.
Events are happening at Parc Daisy-Peterson-Sweeney, which borders the Lachine Canal. Lafontant said the location is a meaningful reference to the diversity of Little Burgundy.
"We are having this event in a neighbourhood that was once occupied by a majority of Black people," he said. "So it can bring back the history of the place."
Lafontant said that while hosting a virtual festival provided a way to keep the annual event running despite COVID-19 restrictions and for it to reach a wider audience outside of Montreal, it "cannot replace the physical event."
"Our main goal is to take our place in the public sphere, in the city, so that people can see us," he said. "A virtual event can have the effect of erasure from the public space."
In curating an event that is aimed at showcasing art from Queer Black creators, Lafontant said he's trying to give a voice and a platform to groups who have historically been marginalized.
"Queerness in the Black community has been ignored for a long time," he said.
He wants to provide a space where people who identify as LGBTQ+ find "a sense of belonging to the Black community."
"In the mainstream queer LGBT community, diversity is also invisible, so it's a place where people who have those two identities, who are somehow invisible, can have a space where they can feel that those identities are welcome."
The free event runs from Sept. 11 to 18 at Parc Daisy-Peterson-Sweeney in Little Burgundy. More information can be found here.