The 35mm and 16mm films that Maureen Blackwood made between 1986 and 1994 seem to have fallen under the radar of recent discussions of black British directors and UK-based feminist filmmakers - with the exception of The Passion of Remembrance, Sankofa’s debut feature that she wrote and co-directed with the artist Isaac Julien.
In mid-1980s London, Blackwood, a recent graduate of the then Polytechnic of Central London, co-founded Sankofa Film and Video, one of the two Black British Film workshops (the other being Black Audio Film Collective) - both of whom went on to transform the way that race and race relations would be represented in British independent cinema.
Informed by the US radical black politics of the 1960s, UK black feminism of the 1980s and the ideas of Third Cinema, Blackwood’s work focuses on the rich yet largely untold stories of black British Women within a shared political heritage of struggle. Working across drama, satire, biography and documentary traditions, her extensively researched productions offer up different possibilities and layers of meaning related to the politics of cinematic representation in the African diaspora.
With a keen eye for aesthetics her films form an impressive collection of post-colonial observations and narratives, which relentlessly challenge lazy cultural assumptions and binary understandings of history and memory. What we celebrate here is Maureen Blackwood’s range as a writer-director and versatility as a filmmaker, someone able and willing to explore the dynamics of fractured black British identities, using a pen and a camera.
Credit: Karen Alexander (A Passion for Remembering: The films of Maureen Blackwood Curator)