Black Film Festival recognizes Harry Belafonte
Published Thursday, September 20, 2012 10:02AM EDT
The Montreal International Black Film Festival kicked off with a tribute to the King of Calypso.
But Harry Belafonte was not being recognized for his singing, dancing and acting. Instead, the festival gave Belafonte its 2012 Humanitarian Prize.
"I'm just absolutely thrilled that there are still young people that feel the necessity to honour me, and I'm very grateful," said Belafonte on his way into Wednesday evening's ceremony.
Belafonte began his career decades ago as a club singer in New York while taking acting classes.
He won worldwide fame with his album 'Calypso', and followed that up with several best-selling albums.
He was also active on Broadway and Hollywood, winning a Tony award for his role in John Murray Anderson's Almanac.
However Belafonte was always active in the Civil Rights movement in the U.S., talking often with Martin Luther King Jr., while also denouncing apartheid in South Africa.
Belafonte frequently held fundraising activities across the United States to support marches, and once bailed King out of jail.
Festival organizer Fabienne Colas said Belafonte's influence has been global.
"We wanted to give it to someone who did great things that impacted the world," said Colas.
Festival host Sonia Benezra agreed.
"This man could have been satisfied with just being a superstar, but he wasn't. He wanted to shine the light on every injustice possible," said Benezra.
On Thursday the biographical documentary "Sing your Song" will be screened at Concordia University at 7 p.m.
Following the screening Belafonte will answer questions from the audience.