Black Cop: Bowles' Debut Film Challenges Stereotypes


Movie focuses on racism in the Canadian justice system

Cory Bowles’ debut film Black Cop premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and it’s one for the books. The protagonist, played by actor Ronnie Rowe Jr. is a flawed, but good-hearted police officer who deals with trauma in this satirical psychodrama.

The plot follows the protagonist’s main flaw which is the internalization of stereotypical ideas around law enforcement; ideas very pertinent to our time including racial profiling and police brutality. Black Cop is a strong contribution to the ongoing conversation about racism in our society, with a specific focus on racism in the Canadian justice system. It is a film that all Canadians need to view.

The director, Cory, was born in Montreal, Québec and grew up in Truro, Nova Scotia, right down the road from Antigonish. He spoke to his own experience with police discrimination in a Vice documentary interview with Noel Ransome. Cory said he called the police during an emergency and he was handcuffed by white police officers when they arrived on scene.

The main actor, Ronnie, hails from Thornhill, Vaughan, Ontario. During an interview with Dina Pugliese on Breakfast Television, Ronnie said he too was familiar with police discrimination having once been detained for making eye contact with a white police officer.

White law enforcement officers racially profiling Black individuals disrupts the concept of a safe and inclusive mosaic society here in Canada.

Howard Sapers’s 2014-2015 Annual Report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator states “In the ten-year period between 2005 and 2015 the federal inmate population grew by 10%.1… the Black inmate population grew by 69%. The federal incarceration rate for Blacks isthree times their representation rate in general society. These increases continue despite public inquiries and commissions calling for change and Supreme Court of Canada decisions urging restraint.”

Like hips, statistics don’t lie. This most current data shows that Black people face snowballing incarceration rates. The overrepresentation of Black inmates in Canadian prisons is only part of the problem. Over the same ten-year period noted previously, the amount of Aboriginal inmates doubled.

Discrimination by law enforcement against minorities continues to be an issue in modern Canadian society. Black Cop is an especially relevant film considering these frightening statistics. It’s time to challenge the stigma around law enforcement and brainstorm ways to heal the relationship between law enforcement and communities that are categorically minorities and historically marginalized.

Aaron Horton and Cory share The Gordon Parsons Award for Black Cop as the Best Atlantic Feature at the Atlantic Film Festival. In addition, Cory took home the Atlantic Canadian Award for Best Atlantic Director at the Festival. Black Cop has received awards from the Denton Black Film Festival for Best Narrative Feature and Edmonton International Film Festival for Canadian Feature Award, among other notable awards.

Samuel Goldwyn Films recently acquired Black Cop and will distribute it to the US market. The film was quickly picked up after screenings at the Victoria Film Festival in 2018.

Cory previously wrote and directed short films The Scavengers (2008), Heart of Rhyme

(2011), Anatomy of Assistance (2013) and Righteous (2014), along with being the director of the CBC mini-series Studio Black! (2015).

Cory, a 2012 Canadian Film Centre alumnus from the Cineplex Entertainment Film Program (Directors’ Lab), is a skillful multidisciplinary artist. Although he is now praised for his role as writer and director, Cory’s passion for the arts developed from music and choreography.

Earlier in his career, Cory made music in bands Aide-De-Camp, Dream Brother and Hip Club Groove. Check out some Hip Club Groove music videos from the 1990s on YouTube.

Cory became a scholarship student at Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in 1999. Since then, Cory is principal choreographer and director of Verve Mwendo Dance and Black Rabbit Entertainment. Cory has also worked as an instructor at Bishops University in the Drama Program.

I have heard it through the grapevine that Cory was working on a project in Antigonish several years ago, around the time when they were filming the Trailer Park Boys series, and he stopped by Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional high school to teach choreography to a drama class.

The advocate for social change is dear to the Nova Scotian community. Cory’s film reaching international distribution is a tell-tale sign that many more are about to be inspired by this artist.