John Akomfrah Talks Condensing 8,000 Hours Of Footage To 95 Minutes For 'Stuart Hall Project'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
February 12, 2013 1:54 PM
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I was actually due to interview John Akomfrah about his latest work, The Stuart Hall Project, during the Sundance Film Festival this year (where the film made its World Premiere), but scheduling problems on my end killed my opportunity, which I regret. But I'm sure I'll get another shot!

In the meantime, I thought this video interview done by the folks at Beyond Cinema Magazine was a good one worth sharing. Good questions; good answers.

First, recapping... Stuart Hall is a Jamaican cultural theorist and sociologist who has lived and worked in the UK since 1951. He was President of the British Sociological Association from 1995-1997. His resume is certainly much more broader than that, and Akomfrah's documentary fills in the blanks.

Here's how its described:

Antinuclear campaigner, New Left activist and founding father of Cultural Studies, this documentary interweaves 70 years of Stuart Hall’s film, radio and television appearances, and material from his private archive to document a memorable life and construct a portrait of Britain’s foremost radical intellectual.

And it should be fitting that the task has been undertaken by an influential black British artist, lecturer, writer, filmmaker and intellectual, who one could also described as radical in his own right - as well as a founder of the Black Audio Film Collective, with a 20-year-old body of work that is among the most distinctive in the contemporary British art world.

We have a review of The Stuart Hall Project courtesy of Zeba Blay who covered the festival for S&A this year - read her review HERE.

I saw it myself, and had to watch it twice. In short, it's quite a dense piece of cinema, that demands your complete attention. It's why I had to watch it twice. If anything, I'd say that it inspired me to do further research on Hall, myself.

In the interview below, you'll learn about how Akomfrah condensed 8000 hours of footage - that's right, 8,000 hours of footage - down to about 95 minutes, which took him over 3 1/2 years.

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