Word of Colour

Honouring Menelik Shabazz (30 May 1954 – 28 June 2021)

Honouring Menelik Shabazz (30 May 1954 - 28 June 2021)

About Menelik Shabazz


Menelik Shabazz, an award-winning and pioneering UK film director, producer, writer, publisher and inspirer, pivotal to the development of Black British cinema, passed away on Monday 28th June 2021, aged 67.

Born in St. John, Barbados in 1954, Menelik founded the ground-breaking black filmmakers magazine (bfm), now re-established online as bfmmag.com, in 1997 and the bfm International Film Festival in 1999, one of the first international festivals of its kind, and the largest in Europe.

He was also founder and chief executive of SunRa Pictures and co-founder of the CEDDO film collective. Considered the Godfather of Black British cinema, Menelik’s body of work includes ‘The Story of Lovers Rock’ (2011), ‘Looking for Love’ (2015) and his milestone film ‘Burning an Illusion’ (1981).  

Menelik is an alumnus of the London International Film School and has won many awards for his work. In 1982, ‘Burning An Illusion’ won the Grand Prix at the Amiens International Film Festival in France and was honoured with a Screen Nation Classic Film Award in October 2011. The film’s lead Cassie McFarlane won the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Newcomer. 

Alongside being one of the highest grossing documentaries shown in UK cinemas in 2011, ‘The Story of Lovers Rock’ won the Jury Award for Best Documentary at the Trinidad International Film Festival in 2012.

Menelik had begun shooting a new feature film in Harare, Zimbabwe called ‘The Spirits Return’, starring Eyarah Mathazia.

Personal photographs of Menelik Shabazz supplied by Marlon Palmer, CEO, Kush Films. Additional photographs: MenelikShabazz.co.uk | Menelik Shabazz (Twitter and Instagram)

Selected Filmography

Step Forward Youth . Breaking Point . Blood A Go Run . Burning an Illusion . Time and Judgement . Catch A Fire (The Paul Bogle Story) . T'he Story of Lovers Rock' . Looking For Love . HEAT . Pharaohs Unveiled . The Hand of Ken .

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