A community masterpiece in Burning An Illusion

| November 29, 2012

It is often said ‘if you want to hide something from black people put it in a book’. More and more we are seeing this erroneous phrase to be untrue as Africans and Caribbeans embrace literature and the arts.

CaribDirect.com had the pleasure of witnessing the screening of the riveting Burning An Illussion written and directed by Menelik Shabazz and starring Cassie McFarlane (Pat Williams); Victor Romero Evans (Del Bennett); Beverley Martin (Sonia); Angela Wynter (Cynthia); Malcolm Fredericks (Chamberlain) and Corinne Skinner Carter (Pat’s mother).

Ron Belgrave, Menelik Shabazz and Victor Romero Evans

Organised by the Black Cinema Club and screened at the black owned Black Grape Platinun Suite 268 West Green Road, N15 3QR., Tottenham, there wasn’t a spare seat available at the time the film began and you could hear a pin drop. Such was the interest of the audience.

The essence of the film sees a ‘young, beautiful and naive to the challenges of loving relationships Pat Williams, finding the man of her dreams.

Her developing relationship with Del, a streetwise brotha, throws up issues we’re all too familar with.

At a time when late night blues with sound systems were the rage, Cortina’s were the black mans Mercedes, Farahs’ were the style icons must wear and flying saucers were worn by almost every sista in town, this 1981 gem did indeed live up to the hype.

Ron Belgrave, Menelik Shabazz, Janet Kay and Victor Romero Evans

Following the nail biting, teeth sucking and ocassional quiet swearing experience of this 1980s 101 minute ride, there was a tight question and answer session moderated by SankofaTV director Ron Belgrave. Director Menelik Shabazz, actor Victor Romero Evans and legendary singer Janet Kay took questions from the audience.

Menelik commented on the fact that his ability to obtain grant funding in those days to the tune of £80,000.00 played a significant part in determining the quality of the production. He said the inaccessibility of such funding today is primarily responsible for the poor film quality representing our community.

He was adamant that our stories should be told by our writers and directors to ensure authenticity. The idea of mainstream English writers telling African Caribbean stories is ludicrous and should remain the domain of talented writers within the community.

It was established that the film Burning An Illusion was shot with the director being aged 28, Victor Romero Evans was 20 and Janet Kay was 21 years of age. They all attest to having a great time during the filming as they were surrounded by many of their close friends and both Victor and Janet confirm working with Menelik was an honour at the time.

Menelik explained the reasoning for the short scene of the mentally ill person as being important given the prevalence of such cases in those days and wanted to highlight this growing phenomenon for the community to take note of and appreciate this illness.

As for the naming of the film, Burning An Illusion he took the inspiration from a reggae song of the time and used it to subtly tell the story of a race of people quietly suffering under the establishment in the hope that things will change on their own.

By all accounts the film was well received evidenced by the many statements of congratulations and pledges of support for Menelik’s continuing work.

Category: Culture & Society, Entertainment

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