Pathfinders in films
Pathfinders in Film Director and film maker John Singleton the youngest and only black film director ever to be nominated for an Oscar for ‘Boyz ‘N’ The Hood, chose to remake the cult classic ‘Shaft’, which was originally directed by Gordon Parks in the early 1970’s and was one of the most famous black films of all time. The success of Shaft added to the popularity of new genera which became known as ‘Blaxploitation’. This era’s film making produced Pa, Grier who started as Foxy Brown and Cleopatra, films which inspired a new generation of black and white filmmakers such as Quenton Tarrantino. In the Jamaica of the early 1970’s Perry Henzell directed one of the most iconic and successful Jamaican films ever ‘The Harder They Come’, eclipsed only by ‘Dance Hall Queen’, directed by Don Letts and Rick Elgood, which is to date the most successful. Another Jamaican success which came in the late 1970’s was ‘Smile Orange which had considerable success in Britain. Britain’s first black feature was in 1975 by Horace Ove, called ‘Pressure’, a film the that followed the trials and tribulation of a black youth struggle with his consciousness growing up in the UK, unemployed and harassed by police. The film is seen through the eyes of ‘Tony’, as an English born son of Trinidadian parents living in Notting Hill. In 1980 came ‘Babylon’ a young West Indian living in London who dreams of finding a way out of a dead end job thorough music and his sound system. A year later in 1981, Menelik Shabazz (black film maker magazine) directed ‘Burning An Illusion’, a film about a young black secretary ‘Pat’ who is politized when her boyfriend is arrested and beaten up in police custody. Shot in and around Notting Hill with scenes included from that years annual Caribbean Carnival. Spike Lee emerged for the black community as the king of black cinema in the early 1980’s with the black and white film ‘She’s Gotta Have It’, sparking a new era of black film making throughout the 1980’s and 90’s in America. Even though he made more than 15 films he never won an Oscar for directing, which no black person has ever done. The 2002 Oscar win for Denzel Washington and Hailie Berry agve rise to the feeling a new era of opportunity had arisen for black actors and actresses. A film which most significant from an African filmmaker was Hailie Gerima’s film ‘Sankofa’ that came to the UK in the early 1990’s and told the a controversial story of slave rebellion. A unique feature of the films actors spoke a variety of languages highlighting the difficulties slaves had communicating with each other from different languages and cultures in Africa, and how they overcame the difficulties.
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