Guyanese-born Canadian Filmmaker Ryan Singh inspires BIPOC filmmakers with his newest release H.E.N.R.I.
H.E.N.R.I. a science fiction film from award-winning Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), Guyanese-born Canadian filmmaker, Ryan Singh, makes its world premiere at the Toronto Black Film Festival, February 10th-21st.
H.E.N.R.I. comes on the heels of Singh’s 2020 award-winning documentary, “Memento,” a South African Artventure. For Singh and many other filmmakers, 2021 has brought more mindfulness to the changing society and the need to empower and uplift the voices of people of colour, and to take ownership of their own stories. This is a sentiment that Singh truly agrees with 100% of the cast for H.E.N.R.I. is BIPOC, and more than 80% of the crew is BIPOC or women, including DGC director Katarzyna Kochany, and producer/actor Andrea Grant (Get Rich or Die Tryin’, The Listener). The entire VFX crew is BIPOC, including VFX artists Adrian Bobb, Colin Walcott, Cait Salmon, as well as Akash Singh and his team at Akash Productions
According to Singh, “The cast wasn’t just uniquely BIPOC, we had a truly diverse cast and crew. I don’t actually have any native indigenous people aside from myself. I am a Guyana, Amerindian mix. So, truly, quite an eclectic group of people that came together to make this project.”
The film H.E.N.R.I. was inspired by Singh’s six-year-old twins, Ava (Tall Boyz, Handmaid’s Tale) and Sebastian (Suits, Handmaid’s Tale, Silent) who helped write and also appear with their father in the short film. Singh told Toronto Caribbean Newspaper reporter, “I was just sitting, and I remembered one day when we had bought Alexa and the Google smart home devices. The twins were about four years old when we first got one for Christmas; they were just so curious. The machine would answer their questions, and that was fascinating to me because we’re moving in such a technological direction that oftentimes, parents don’t have time to answer many of their children’s questions.”
Later Singh communicated the idea for a film with his kids and they both loved the concept and from there H.E.N.R.I. was created.
Many would assume it is hectic working with children as young as six years old, but according to the Director and Producer Katarzyna Kochany, “The kids were great. Even when we got into post-production, we were editing, we gave them an opportunity to see all the cuts, and we gave them an opportunity to provide feedback. It’s a good thing we did, because there were a couple of things that they noticed that we stopped seeing because we have seen the footage so many times. So, having those fresh, young eyes looking at the film was extremely helpful.”
“As the project developed, it became the catalyst for honing and nurturing talents in varying stages of professional growth. This project engaged more than two-dozen artists, most of them BIPOC,”
According to Singh, “the message about this film is that you have to keep yourself open to the future, the relationship we will have with technology, and how that will impact our world.”
“I want to give a shout out to our crew members; because, without them, this movie would not be what it is,” Kochany told me.
Some of the people who made this film possible were: Sebastian Singh, Andrea Grant, Ava Singh, Colin Walcott, Cait Salmon, Adrian Bobb, Vithuna Tharmarajah, Akash Singh, Shanelle Parchment, Aaron Manswell, Ivan Camilo, Harshit Kumar, Jhanik Bullard and so many more. The complete list of cast and crew can be found on www.imdb.com
Ryan Singh will also be featured in a second film “Assets” in the same program at the Toronto Black Film Festival. Some of Singh’s upcoming projects include feature films and a slate of television projects, including a children’s program developed through the BIPOC KIDS TV WRITING BOOTCAMP.