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ADIFF Video Exclusive: Veteran Brit Filmmaker Menelik Shabazz On State Of Black Cinema In UK, Black American Films In UK, More...

by Tambay A. Obenson
November 28, 2011 12:30 PM
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M Shabazz

Last week Wednesday, I had the pleasure of having a lengthy conversation with veteran black British filmmaker Menelik Shabazz (Burning an Illusion), who's in the US for the stateside premiere of his latest work (The Story Of Lover's Rock), at the African Diaspora Film Festival here in New York City. Our chat covered a variety of topics we've tackled here on S&A, including the black filmmaker's experience in the UK (he gets into several specifics, from funding, to production, distribution, exhibition and reception), the so-called talent drain as black UK actors and filmmakers leave the UK for supposed greener pastures in the USA, comparisons between the black filmmaker's experience in the UK versus the US, how black American films are received in the UK (notably Tyler Perry's), the prevalence of bootlegging of those black American films, "hood films" in the UK, up-and-coming black British filmmakers we should be aware of on this side of the pond, and more...

We spoke for about 45 minutes, and, naturally, I videotaped the entire conversation, which is embedded below for you all to watch - a slightly edited version,cutting out about 6 minutes. Given that I'm still very much interested in and still learning about black filmmaker experiences in other parts of the Diaspora, I found my conversation with Mr Shabazz all very informative, and I think you all will as well - especially those of you in the USA. 

So I hope you'll watch, listen and learn.

Menelik's return to the world of filmmaking in 15 years, The Story Of Lover's Rock, made its stateside debut at the African Diaspora Film Festival here in NYC, and will be followed by a limited theatrical run at the Quad, also here in NYC, starting this Friday, December 2.

An S&A review of the film is coming.

It  already opened in the UK, and has been playing quite well, going into its 5th week in release, which, as you'll see in our conversation video when I post it, is actually quite a feat for a film of its kind - essentially a black-themed docudrama.

And if you live in NYC, you'll have several opportunities to watch the film in theaters, starting this week; and I hope you will if you can.

In the meantime, get to know much more about Menelik Shabazz in our taped conversation below:

Exclusive w/ Menelik Shabazz from Tambay Obenson on Vimeo.

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  • Jay | November 29, 2011 3:17 PMReply

    Excellent discussion. Tambay's questions are probing but not intrusive. Great comments from Mr. Shabazz at the end. Top notch work Tambay.

  • Sean | November 28, 2011 11:57 PMReply

    Much respect to Menelik Shabazz. I love the trailer.

  • JMac | November 28, 2011 9:44 PMReply

    Great interview despite the noise issues :p Interesting insight into US black films entering UK/overseas market.

  • ShebaBaby | November 28, 2011 9:17 PMReply

    Great interview Tambay! It was especially interesting to see what happens with black films when they try to open overseas. I never thought about the piracy aspect of it all and it does make total sense since they're always pussyfooting about releasing our films wide over here in America so by the time they even think about playing overseas they've already had plenty of time to be bootlegged. We can't win for losing.

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