Film-maker Menelik Shabazz dead at 67
Menelik Shabazz

MENELIK Shabazz, the Barbadian-born director-writer whose documentary, The Story of Lover's Rock helped introduce a new generation of British fans to that genre, died in Zimbabwe on June 28.

The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom reports that Shabazz's death was confirmed by his daughter Nadia Denton. She said the cause of death stemmed from diabetes.

Shabazz was in Africa working on The Spirits Return, his first film in 40 years. He made his debut in 1981 with Burning an Illusion.

The 67-year-old Shabazz migrated to the United Kingdom at age five. Eighteen years later, he made Step Forward Youth, a short feature film.

Based on the easy-listening reggae sound that erupted in the UK during the late 1970s, The Story of Lover's Rock was released in that country in September 2011 to critical acclaim. It contains interviews, comedy sketches, live performances and footage of pioneer British artistes such as Janet Kay, UB40, Maxi Priest, Levi Roots and Linton Kwesi Johnson.

The New York Times film critic Kam Williams was impressed with Shabazz's work on the documentary, writing: “You can add The Story of Lover's Rock to the short list of must-see, politically tinged documentaries which shed light on the cultural roots of a lesser-known musical genre, a la Calypso Dreams and Buena Vista Social Club.”

In 1996 Shabazz was commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation to produce Catch A Fire, a documentary about Jamaica's National Hero Paul Bogle. He started Black Filmmaker Magazine in 1998, which was followed one year later by the BFM Film Festival which ran until 2011.

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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