Home Biographies A portrait of the producer of the documentary on Harry Jerome: Selwyn Jacob
A portrait of the producer of the documentary on Harry Jerome: Selwyn Jacob PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Thursday, 07 October 2010 22:13

The statue of Harry Jerome in Stanley Park (Vancouver)

Selwyn Jacob was born in Trinidad and Tobago and has been living in Canada since 1968. He earned his Masters Degree at the University of Southern California and then embarked upon a combined career as an educator and filmmaker. He became a teacher and eventually a principal. He later began his career as a producer and as an independent filmmaker. In this capacity, he directed Remember Amber Valley in 1984 and Carol’s Mirror in 1991. He directed and produced The Road Taken in 1996.

Selwyn Jacob is an award-winning filmmaker who has been working in Vancouver for the NFB Pacific and Yukon centre since the late 90s. In that regard, Selwyn Jacob joined the National Film Board of Canada in 1997 as a Cultural Diversity Producer. He produced many films and documentaries throughout his career. His documentaries chronicled many subjects regarding Chinese Canadians and Canadian soldiers in World War I, among others.

He produced and covered crucial projects such as The Journey of Lesra Martin, the story of the former street youth who helped, along with other Canadians, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter to be released from prison. The character and life of Lesra Martin was also portrayed in the famous movie “The Hurricane” starring Denzel Washington as Rubin Carter and Vicellous Reon Shannon in the role of Lesra Martin.

Jeni LeGon: Living in a great big way is among one of the most acclaimed documentaries of Selwyn Jacob. It is about the first Black women actresses in Hollywood who signed long-term contracts with a major Hollywood studio, MGM. The agreement was to earn between 1 250$ and 4500$ per week for a five-year period. Jacob’s more recent productions include Between the Laughter, a film about Stephen O’Keefe’s journey to become Canada’s first deaf stand-up comedian; My Father, My Teacher, an exploration of the relationship between Inuvialuit filmmaker Dennis Allen and his father.

In April 2009, Jacob began working on the production of the documentary on Harry Jerome [1] with director Charles Officer. The documentary is based on the critically acclaimed book by author Fil Fraser entitled Running Uphill. The film explores the turbulent life and career of the record-setting icon African-Canadian track and field star. At one time Jerome was the fastest man on the planet and he is considered the Canadian Jessie Owens.  The late Jerome competed in three Olympic Games and made history by winning the bronze medal in Tokyo in 1964. The athlete brought a lot of pride to Canada. He was recognized as a national symbol of excellence in the sports world and in the community. Jerome is immortalized by a beautiful statue in Vancouver’s Stanley Park and by the multi-sport Harry Jerome Centre in BC.  The documentary of Selwyn Jacob, Mighty Jerome was released on September 2010.

Jacob's body of work was reviewed in several publications such as 'Who’s who in Black Canada' (by Dawn P. Williams, 2002), “Choosing the Road Taken”, New Trail (University of Alberta Alumni publication, 1997). Selwyn Jacob gave us a legacy and we are looking forward to his next contributions.



 Harry Jerome in brief [2]



Athletic achievements:


March 13, 1959:Jerome equals the Canadian icon Percy Williams for the 100-yard dash with 10 seconds flat at the North Vancouver High School

July 18, 1959: In Winnipeg (Manitoba) Jerome wins the Canadian championship in the 100-metres race with a time of 10.4 seconds

June 15, 1962: In Alberta, Jerome reaches the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association record for 220 yards with a time of 20.7 seconds

August 8, 1964: In St-Lambert (Quebec), Jerome wins the Canadian Track and Field Championship in the 100 metres with a time of 10.6 seconds


Olympic Games 



1964 Tokyo October 15

100 metres

Pan American Games



1967 Winnipeg July 31

100 metres

August 31, 1969: In Victoria (BC), Jerome repeats as Canadian 100-metres champion with a time of 10.5 seconds. This became the last Jerome’s official competition.


Height: 5’11

Weight: 190



  • Teaching Certification, August 1968, University of British Columbia
  • MSc Physical Education, July 1968, University of Oregon
  • BSc Physical Education, July 1964, University of Oregon



- Harry Jerome was a math and science teacher for the Richmond School Board from 1964 until 1965

- Jerome was a physical education teacher from 1965 until 1968 for the Vancouver School Board

- Jerome worked for fitness and amateur sport in 1972 and also as a sport researcher from 1968 until 1969


Additional information:

- Harry Jerome received accolades from fans around the world and from the former Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson (Nobel Peace recipient, 1957) during a 1967 Centennial year event

- After Jerome’s retirement in 1969, the Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invited him to help create Canada’s new ministry of sport

- Every year since 1983, the BBPA [3] (http://www.bbpa.org/) grants the Harry Jerome Awards to qualifying members of the Black Canadian population.

- A statue in Stanley Park (Vancouver) has been erected in honour of Harry Jerome on May 28th 1988

- A request in 2001 was officially made to name a street in the North of Vancouver after Harry Jerome.

- In 2001 Jerome was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.


Famous quotes from Fil Fraser’s book Running Uphill:


“Harry Jerome is Canada’s Jessie Owens. He faced the same battles in his time as Jessie did. Frankly, Harry Jerome’s face should be on a dollar bill. He should be a national hero for what he went through”, Donovan Bailey, five-time world and Gold Olympic champion

“Harry Jerome was, of course, a great athlete. When I watched Harry run, it seemed as if he was floating”, John Braithwaite, former city councillor, City of North Vancouver

“Harry Jerome’s life has the earmarks of many powerful stories-he wins our hearts, he breaks out hearts and he dies too soon”, Cheryl Foggo, author, filmmaker and historian



The documentary Mighty Jerome will be showned at Hot Docs Festival in Toronto:

April 29th 2011, 9:30PM at Tiff Bell Lightbox 3

April 30th 2011, 11:00AM at Isabel Bader Theater

May 8th 2011, 4:30PM at The Revue


In Montreal, Mighty Jerome opens May 8th at Parallele.  Visit:  www.cinemaparallele.ca for show times.


The 29th Annual BBPA Harry Jerome Awards is scheduled for April 30th 2011 at The Toronto Congress Centre:


650 Dixon Rd.  Toronto, ON, Time:  5:30PM

To buy tickets go to www.bbpa.org

Phone:   416-504-4097

Fax:  416-504-7343

Ticket Princes:

Member: $150

Regular: $200


Mr.  Jacob's Education:

B.Ed., University of Alberta (1970)

MSc.  Film, University of S.  Californica (1975)


We remember Amber valley (1984)

The Saint from North Battleford (1989)

Carol’s Mirror (1991)

Al Tasmim (1995)

The Road Taken (1996)

John McCrae’s war:  In Flanders Fields (1998)

Yuxweluptun:  Man of Masks (1998)

Jeni LeGon:  Living in a Great Big Way (1999)

Java Jive (1999)

T’Lina:  The Rendering of Wealth (1999)

Nuclear Dynamite (2000)

Between the laughter (2000)

Britannia:  a company town (2000)

Beaverbrook:  The Various Lives of Max Aitken (2000)

When a Child Goes Missing (2000)

Obaachan’s Garden (2001)

Letters from home (2001)

The Journey of Lesra Martin (2002)

A tribe of One (2003)

From Harling Point (2003)

When Hockey came to Belfast (2004)

My father, my teacher (2005)

Between the laughter (educational version) (2006)

Mighty Jerome (2010)

Several Awards in Canada and in the US:

Best educational award, Birmingham for Carol’s Mirror (1993)

Golden apple award, Oakland for Carol’s Mirror(1993)

Kathleen Shannon award and Best Documentary for The Road Taken (1997)

The John Ware Lifetime Memorial Award from the Black Achievement Awards Society of Alberta (1997)

Premiers award of excellence, for work with Alberta Curriculum Standards Branch (1998)

The prestigious Gemini Award for The Road Taken (1998)

Michael Blaustein Biography award for Jeni LeGon, Pittsburg (1999)


[1] Harry Jerome is an NFB (National Film Board of Canada) production. The National Film Board of Canada marks its 70th anniversary in 2009 with a new national online Screening Room and a slate of bold, innovative productions. The NFB produces and distributes social-issue documentaries, alternative drama and others. The projects have contents that provide the world with a unique Canadian perspective. Since the NFB's founding in 1939, it has created over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. To watch over 1000 productions online or for more information, go to www.nfb.ca

[2] Source: Running Uphill, Fil Fraser

[3] The Black Business and Professionals Association