Becoming a Queen (2021)

I had no idea that Toronto had a major Caribana Festival and that Joella Crichton had won it seven times in a row. This particular Caribbean carnival started in 1967 and takes place on the nearest weekend to Emancipation Day which celebrates the day that the British Empire passed the Slavery Abolition Act. See, you can learn something new every day.

Director Chris Strikes, who put the film together with co-writer Sonia Godding, got incredible access to not just Crichton’s life, but her entire family. The film also explores the hard work and planning that goes into preparing for the competition and building the elaborate costumes. Plus, there’s plenty of information on the history of the competition and Carnival itself in Toronto, as well as how it presents a unique window into black and Caribbean-Canadian identity.

Most importantly, the film shows that Caribbean communities don’t have rigid standards of beauty, as most of North America does. It’s also a chance to see Crichton as she attempts to win a historic tenth title in her last ever competition.

Becoming a Queen is now available on demand. You can learn more at the official site.

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