Remembering Charles Officer

Vtape staff and board members were shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of filmmaker Charles Officer on Friday, December 1st, at only 48 years of age, following a lengthy and complicated illness.

No one who ever met Charles, even once, would likely forget him. As Sarah Jenkinson of the Black Screen Office told the Toronto Star, “Charles was one of the kindest, gentlest people I’ve ever met. His warmth and genuineness were as remarkable as his creative abilities.”

Charles Officer came to filmmaking after trying out several different careers, but he nevertheless leaves behind an impressive legacy of work, including short films and both fiction and documentary features, among them Nurse.Fighter.Boy (2008), Mighty Jerome (2010), Unarmed Verses (2017), and Akilla’s Escape (2020), as well as the television documentary The Skin We’re In (2017), with journalist Desmond Cole. 

In honour of Charles Officer’s commitment to centring Black voices, we have made available for public viewing an early video called Vocal Demonstration, from the compilation blah blah blah (re)Viewing Quebec, which features 14 videos by artists responding to the 2001 Summit of the Americas (the FTAA) held in Québec City. 

Gisèle Gordon, a collaborator of Charles’s on blah blah blah (re)Viewing Quebec, wrote of him:

“Charles Officer – best human, superb listener, brilliant artist – always led with love. Not the easy kind. The tough kind that, despite the racism he endured and witnessed, shone so brightly from his heart it illuminated all who met him, even if the meeting was only for a moment. The world would be better if more of us aspired to be like him. The short he made for our Blah Blah Blah Collective as a response to the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, Vocal Demonstration, is a profound expression of lack of representation eloquently distilled into a powerful visual poem.”

Vocal Demonstration (Charles Officer, 2001, 4:00)

side by side, i stand inside this
bona fide global divide. a rising
tide of approximately 70,000
wide. in my mind, through my mind, the realization of a
vocal demonstration is a personal reflection, after witnessing an incredibly minute representation of people of colour at the summit of the americas demonstration in québec city, 2001.
– Charles Officer, 2001

Home page image credit: Petr Novák, Wikipedia (