Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Taraji P Henson Thanks UK Fans for Illegally Streaming 'Empire' Which Led to Its Pickup + UK Reactions to the Show Taraji P Henson Thanks UK Fans for Illegally Streaming 'Empire' Which Led to Its Pickup + UK Reactions to the Show You Will Be Moved By the Atmospheric First Full Trailer for 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' You Will Be Moved By the Atmospheric First Full Trailer for 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' Wendell Pierce Will Play Clarence Thomas Opposite Kerry Washington's Anita Hill in HBO's 'Confirmation,' Directed by Rick Famuyiwa Wendell Pierce Will Play Clarence Thomas Opposite Kerry Washington's Anita Hill in HBO's 'Confirmation,' Directed by Rick Famuyiwa Crowdfund This: Feature Film, 'The Last Black Man in San Francisco' Crowdfund This: Feature Film, 'The Last Black Man in San Francisco' Interview: Black Masculinity in Comic Books with Jonathan Gayles Interview: Black Masculinity in Comic Books with Jonathan Gayles Viola Davis Is Developing a Harriet Tubman Biopic for HBO (She Will Star & Produce) Viola Davis Is Developing a Harriet Tubman Biopic for HBO (She Will Star & Produce) Indie Box Office: How Did the Queen Latifah Exec Produced Indie Drama 'Brotherly Love' Do? Indie Box Office: How Did the Queen Latifah Exec Produced Indie Drama 'Brotherly Love' Do? Watch Queen Latifah & Mo'Nique "Preach the Blues" is 4 Clips from 'Bessie' Watch Queen Latifah & Mo'Nique "Preach the Blues" is 4 Clips from 'Bessie' Watch 'Deadpan' - an Early Short Work by Steve McQueen Inspired by Buster Keaton Watch 'Deadpan' - an Early Short Work by Steve McQueen Inspired by Buster Keaton Watch: Luther - President Obama's Anger Translator - Makes an Appearance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner Watch: Luther - President Obama's Anger Translator - Makes an Appearance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner Here Are the Cities & Theaters in Which Patrik-Ian Polk's Award-Winning Drama 'Blackbird' Opens Today Here Are the Cities & Theaters in Which Patrik-Ian Polk's Award-Winning Drama 'Blackbird' Opens Today Scientific Accuracy in Film - Neil deGrasse Tyson Reacts to Negative Reactions to His Reviews of Science Fiction Films Scientific Accuracy in Film - Neil deGrasse Tyson Reacts to Negative Reactions to His Reviews of Science Fiction Films 'Chocolate City' Finally Gets a Trailer + Release Date Set (Might It Steal Some of 'Magic Mike's' Summer Thunder?) 'Chocolate City' Finally Gets a Trailer + Release Date Set (Might It Steal Some of 'Magic Mike's' Summer Thunder?) Barbie Is Honoring Ava DuVernay (and Other "Sheroes") With Her Very Own Doll. Have a Look... Barbie Is Honoring Ava DuVernay (and Other "Sheroes") With Her Very Own Doll. Have a Look... Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Sundance 2013 Review: John Akomfrah’s 'The Stuart Hall Project '

Shadow and Act By Zeba Blay | Shadow and Act January 21, 2013 at 1:14PM

It would be unfair to call The Stuart Hall Project a simple documentary. The film, directed by John Akomfrah, is a visual and sonic excursion into the life and philosophies of the Jamaican-born intellectual, a finely crafted collage of memory, distilling hundreds of hours of archival footage of Hall, and exploring not only his life story but the story of the 20th century, in many ways intertwined with his own. In the the 1960s, Hall came to prominence as an important thinker in the UK, fearlessly sharing his ideas on race, class, and the social structure as it related to the black people of Britain and around the world. Hall was interested in breaking down the structures of society, power, and political institutions in relation to how they impacted and indeed were tied to the plight of the black man.  
2
Stuart Hall

It would be unfair to call The Stuart Hall Project a simple documentary. The film, directed by John Akomfrah, is a visual and sonic excursion into the life and philosophies of the Jamaican-born intellectual, a finely crafted collage of memory, distilling hundreds of hours of archival footage of Hall, and exploring not only his life story but the story of the 20th century, in many ways intertwined with his own.

In the the 1960s, Hall came to prominence as an important thinker in the UK, fearlessly sharing his ideas on race, class, and the social structure as it related to the black people of Britain and around the world. Hall was interested in breaking down the structures of society, power, and political institutions in relation to how they impacted and indeed were tied to the plight of the black man.  

Oxford educated and a professor at the Open University, Hall was one of the leading contributors to the field of cultural studies, and one of the most influential voices of the new post-war Left.

The project itself is a highly dense, deeply intricate endeavor. Akomfrah weaves together stock footage, family photos, interviews, television clips, and the music of Miles Davis, of which Hall has been a lifetime listener.

The many parts help to map out a story that chronicles Hall’s career in tandem with the changing events in Great Britain and the world at large including the Suez crisis, youth counterculture and the Vietnam War, West Indian migration to the UK, and the advent of feminist theory.

It may all sound very academic, but the film is clearly a very personal venture for Akomfrah, who has said that the project is one he feels he has “been preparing for a very long time... possibly all my working life.” His respect and admiration for his subject manifests itself in the way Hall is essentially allowed to tell his own story, narrating the documentary through archived audio interviews.

Some of the most moving and fascinating moments in the film come as Hall describes life in Kingston, Jamaica, being “three shades darker” than his family, and therefore an outcast - a victim of colorism and colonization.

There’s a truly cinematic quality to the imagery used, complemented beautifully by Hall’s running narration, as well as the music of Miles Davis, of which Hall has been a lifetime listener. The incredibly rich visual landscape of the film is engaging, if a bit overwhelming due to the sheer expanse of time and information being presented.

The Stuart Hall Project is not a history lesson, nor a biography in the traditional sense. It’s an abstract approach to storytelling, an attempt at connection with the past, and a reverent celebration of a profound and inspirational black leader.

Zeba Blay is a Ghanaian-born film and culture writer based in New York. She is a contributor to Huffington Post, Africa Style Daily, and Slant Magazine. She co-hosts the weekly podcast Two Brown Girls, and runs a personal movie blog, Film Memory. Follow her on Twitter @zblay.

This article is related to: Sundance Film Festival, John Akomfrah, The Stuart Hall Project


Shadow & ActNewsletter