Canadian Film Fest 2019: This is North Preston

This Is North Preston (2019) 1h 17min | Documentary | 12 April 2019 (USA) Summary: The largest black community in the country started as a safe haven for escaped slaves but has more recently been labelled as one of the biggest hubs of pimping and human trafficking in the ... See full summary »
Countries: Canada

The population of the town of North Preston, Nova Scotia try to clear up their reputation as a haven of sex traffickers and drug dealers in This is North Preston. North Preston is a small community with a population of 4000, located outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The town is historically Canada’s largest black community, being a safe haven for escaped slaves, who entered Canada through the Underground Railroad. However, in recent times, the community has gained the reputation for harboring sex traffickers and drug dealers, though those who live in North Preston have a different story to tell.

This is North Preston is a documentary designed to tell the story of Canada’s largest black community from the point of those who live there. The film’s primary subject is aspiring singer Justin “Just Change” Smith, who had left life on the streets for a career in music. The population of North Preston try to explain that the crime in the town doesn’t define who they are as people, with the positive aspects never being reported by the media.

With This is North Preston, director Jaren Hayman has the challenge of trying to provide an objective examination of North Preston and the reputation that the town has gained to outsiders. This includes some ethical grey areas, such as interviewing a wanted criminal, who is shown wearing sunglasses and a bandanna. Then there is the fact that This is North Preston also at times seems like a platform for Justin Smith to promote his music career, which includes some music video like lip-syncing sequences. While, I’m sure this is to illustrate the success story of someone from the town, it does end up somewhat overshadowing the larger issue of systemic racism and North Preston’s poor reputation to the outside world.

Join SK on Movies Premium to Get Access to Exclusive Content

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).