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Pioneering Black British Filmmaker Sir Horace Ové Dies At 86

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LONDON (CelebrityAccess) – Sir Horace Ové, photographer, writer, painter and director of the first full-length Black British film, died on Saturday (September 16). The news of his death was confirmed via a Facebook post by his son Zak. He was 86.
“Our loving father Horace, took his last breath at 4.30 this morning while sleeping peacefully. I hope his spirit is free now after many years of suffering with Alzheimer’s. You are forever missed and forever loved. Rest in Peace, Pops, and thank you for everything.”
He was born Horace Shang Ové in December 1936 in Belmont, Trinidad and Tobago, to parents Lorna and Lawrence, who owned and managed shops. He moved to London in 1960 to study painting and interior design. After a time in Italy with his cousin, actor Stefan Kalipha and working as an extra on the epic film Cleopatra, he returned to Britain to continue his college education. He continued to paint and photograph and enrolled at the London School of Film. He then met and married Mary Irvine, who, according to The Guardian, was an Irish immigrant active within the Socialist Workers and Communist parties. They eventually divorced, but the marriage produced five children.
As a photographer, Ové became close to the leaders of the Black Power movement, photographing Stokely Carmichael and Michael X and capturing events from the Mangrove Nine protests and demonstrations to John Lennon and Yoko Ono donating a bag of their hair to the Black Centre.
Ové directed documentaries before he ventured into feature films. Some were the short The Art of the Needle (1966) about acupuncture, followed by Baldwin’s N***** (1968), a record of a visit to the UK by US author and activist James Baldwin that captures him addressing a group of young people at the West Indian Student’s Centre in London, Reggae (1971) was the first in-depth documentary on Black music and reggae in the UK, King Carnival (1973) about the history of the carnival in Trinidad and Skateboard Kings (1978).
Turning his attention towards feature films, he directed Pressure (1976), heralded as the first full-length Black British film. It is the story of an African-Caribbean man’s social and political awakening. He is caught between his white former classmates, traditionalist parents, and militant older brother. Ové and novelist Sam Selvon wrote Pressure and shot off the cuff on the streets of London. Over the years, it has become one of the defining works of Black British cinema.
It was on the set of Pressure that he met Annabelle Alcazar, one of the film’s producers. The marriage ended in separation after 25 years.
Other credits include A Hole in Babylon (1975), The Latchkey Children (1980), and Who Shall We Tell? (1985), Playing Away (1986) and more.
The prolific filmmaker’s work is the subject of an upcoming BFI Southbank season called Power to the People: Horace Ové’s Radical Vision. A restored version of Pressure will receive a world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival and the New York Film Festival on October 11.
The BFI posted a message on social media upon hearing the news of his passing. “We’re deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Horace Ové. Photographer, painter, writer, and pioneering filmmaker, Ové’s career spanned four decades and encompassed cutting-edge drama and documentary. He worked outside of the system, showing generations of Black filmmakers that it could be done and that their voices have power. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this time.”
Ové is survived by his children, Genieve, Zak, Indra, Ezana and Kaz.
RIP.

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