Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Stuart Hall Project (John Akomfrah), 2013

I met John Akomfrah once. I was leaving a screening of "7 Songs for Malcolm X" early at the Museum of Visual Culture in Umeå Sweden in 2007 (parental duties called). He was sitting in the foyer while the film was screening. I approached him and thanked him for his work, (Handsworth Songs is a work of genius), and he said he was now working on a biopic of Fela Kuti. As far as I know he has not finished it. I hope he does one day.

The Stuart Hall Project is a 2013 British film written and directed by John Akomfrah centred on cultural theorist Stuart Hall, who is regarded as one of the founding figures of the New Left and a key architect of Cultural Studies in Britain. The film uses a montage of documentary footage together with Hall's own words and thoughts to produce what Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called "an absorbing account", awarding it four stars and stating that it has "an idealism and high seriousness that people might not immediately associate with the subject Hall pioneered".

Sight and Sound magazine's Ashley Clark described it as "a strongly personal work" that "unfolds simultaneously as a tribute to a heroic figure, a study of the emergence of the New Left and its attendant political ideas, and a summation, in thematic and technical terms, of the key characteristics of Akomfrah’s body of work thus far (intertextuality, archival manipulation, a focus on postcolonial and diasporic discourse in Britain)."

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