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Clement Virgo is an award – winning filmmaker best known for an array of controversial and thought-provoking films like Save My Lost Nigga Soul, Rude, Lie to Me and Poor Boy’s Game.
Jamaican born, Virgo and his family relocated to Canada in 1977, where he attended West Preparatory Public School in North Toronto. Soon after, he moved to Regent Park, which happens to be Toronto’s largest public-housing estate, and is plagued with crime and drugs. Virgo credits his time spent living in Regent Park for shaping his value system and cultural point of view.
Always having dreams of becoming a filmmaker, he applied for a spot at Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre in 1991. He was accepted, and in 1992 he returned for a nine month residency where he produced the short film, Save My Lost Nigga Soul. The film was well received and went on to win prizes for Best Short Film at both of the Toronto and Chicago international film festivals in 1993. It was also nominated for a Genie Award and the Paul Robsen Award for best short of the African Diaspora in 1995 at the African Video and Film Festival.
[pullquote type=”right”]Always having dreams of becoming a filmmaker, he applied for a spot at Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre in 1991.[/pullquote]Following the success of Save My Lost Nigga Soul, Virgo wrote and directed his first feature length film, Rude. The film told three separate storylines that were all connected by the voice of an underground radio disc jockey by the name of “Rude.” Again, Virgo had been the mastermind behind a great film, and a piece that is praised for being the first feature shot solely by a crew of black Canadian filmmakers. In 1995 it was invited to the Cannes Film Festival, nominated for eight Genie Awards and opened the Perspective Canada program at the Toronto Film Festival. However, in the midst of all of the film’s success, when it was released commercially it failed to find a fitting audience.
Virgo would find more success with a made – for – TV film, The Planet of Junior Brown, in 1998, which was based on a novel written by Virginia Hamilton. It was nominated for five Genie Awards as well as an Emmy.
His second feature film was Love Come Down, which explored the relationship between two brothers, one black (Larenz Tate) and the other white (Martin Cummins), who share the same mother but different fathers. In 2001 the film won three Genie Awards and landed Cummins the award for Best Supporting Actor.
In 2005, Virgo co-wrote, produced and directed Lie with Me, based on the novel by Tamara Faith Ferger. It received moderate success at the box office. In 2007, his fourth feature, Poor Boy’s Game, which was filmed in Halifax, was invited to the Berlin Film Festival.
Virgo’s work in directing for television can been seen in various episodes of Soul Food, The Wire, The L Word, ReGenesis and The Listener, where he also acted as executive producer.
“Great Expectations” by Dickens because I identified with the main character, Pip, who was trying to make sense of the world while trying to be a gentleman.
“Don’t worry bout a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna to be all right.”
~ Bob Marley
On my bucket list…
I would like to go to West Africa, specifically Sierra Leone, because that is where “The Book of Negroes” begins (the novel which I’m currently adapting into a mini-series).
Because of love and passion.
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