Horace Ové, director of “Pressure” (1976), the first black British feature film, died on September 16. He was 86 years old.

Zak, Ové’s son posted on facebook: “Our beloved father Horacio took his last breath this morning at 4:30, while he was sleeping peacefully. I hope his spirit is free now after many years of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. We will always miss you and love you forever. Rest in peace, dad, and thank you for everything.”

Born in Trinidad in 1936, Ové moved to London in 1960 to study interior design. During a stint in Rome, during which he worked as a film extra, including Joseph Mankiewicz’s “Cleopatra” (1963), he was introduced to the work of Federico Fellini and Vittorio De Sica, who would become influences. He returned to Britain in 1965 and covered social and political events in the country while studying at the London Film School. During the 1960s and 1970s he was a leading chronicler of the Black Power movement and counterculture in London, with portraits of Michael X, Stokely Carmichael, Darcus Howe, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Caribbean Artists Movement, and the nascent Notting Hill. Carnival.

Ové directed the short “The Art of the Needle” (1966), followed by the short documentary “Baldwin’s N*****” (1968), a record of a visit to the United Kingdom by renowned American author and activist James Baldwin that captures He addressed a group of young people at the West Indian Student Center in London. Ové’s “Reggae” (1971) was the first in-depth documentary about black music and reggae in the United Kingdom.

“Pressure” (1976), billed as the first black British feature film, is an exploration of the concerns facing emerging second-generation West Indians in Britain.

In an era when authentic black narratives were underrepresented in mainstream media, Ové pushed the boundaries at the BBC and Channel 4, creating films that portrayed a multicultural Britain, including “A Hole in Babylon” (1979). , “The Garland” (1981) and “Playing Away” (1985). During this period, Ové made two consecutive documentaries in India for Channel 4. “Dabbawallahs” (1985), filmed in Mumbai (then Bombay) is a portrait of the men and women who bring lunches to office workers on a run. Against time. “Who will we tell?” (1985) is Ové’s Grierson Award-nominated documentary about the aftermath of the Bhopal gas tragedy of December 1984, a first-person portrait told by the people of Bhopal themselves, describing their lives before and after the deadly gas leak.

Ové’s work has inspired a generation of diverse black British filmmakers and artists, including Menelik Shabazz, John Akomfrah, Isaac Julien, Julien Henriques, Ngozi Onwurah, Steve McQueen, Amma Asante, Raine Allen-Mille and Dionne Edwards. Ové was knighted in 2022 for his services to British film and media.

The late filmmaker’s work is the subject of a forthcoming BFI Southbank’s major retrospective season titled Power for the people: the radical vision of Horacio Ové. A restored 4K version of “Pressure” will receive a joint restoration world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival and the New York Film Festival on October 11. This precedes the film’s release in cinemas across the UK by BFI Distribution and on BFI Player in November. 3.

The retrospective season (October 23 to November 30) will begin with an illustrated talk and a preview of the re-release of “Pressure.” The program will include films such as “Baldwin’s N******” (1969), “Reggae” (1970), “King Carnival” (1973), “Skateboard Kings” (1978), “Black Safari” (1972), Among others. The event will also screen films that influenced Ové’s cinematographic style, such as “La Dolce Vita” (1960), “Bicycle Thieves” (1948) and “Pather Panchali” (1955).

The UK film and television charity has donated £50,000 ($62,000) Horacio Ové Grant to help the black and global majority of people working behind the scenes in film, television and film access opportunities and overcome barriers to career progression.

He BFI published in X: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sir Horace Ové. A pioneering photographer, painter, writer and filmmaker, Ové’s career spanned four decades and included avant-garde drama and documentaries. He worked outside 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.”


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