Menelik Shabazz (born1954) is a Barbados-born film director, producer, educator and writer, acknowledged as a pioneer in the development of independent Black British cinema, having been at the forefront of contemporary British filmmaking for more than 30 years. Shabazz is best known for the 1981 film ‘Burning an Illusion’, his first feature. He was also co-founder in the 1980s of Kuumba film production company and Ceddo Film and Video Workshop, while as the publisher of Black Filmmakers Magazine and creator of BFM International Film Festival, he has been called the founding father of the BFM media project.
In 1984, Shabazz also founded Ceddo Film and Video Workshop, a franchised collective that produced films for Channel4. Funded by Channel 4 and the British Film Institute , Ceddo created ground-breaking film production and community training initiatives, and hosted several screenings with filmmakers including Spike Lee (School Daze). Menelik’s film credits include: Step Forward Youth and Breaking Point; Burning an Illusion. His first feature-length film, Burning an Illusion, which he wrote and directed with financial support from the British Film Institute (BFI), was released to acclaim in 1981and has been called “one of the most t important feature films ever made in Britain”, winning 1975 Grand Prix at the Amiens International “” – Festival.
In 1996, as part of the six-part BBC Education series Hidden Empire, he made the drama documentary Catch A Fire about the life of Paul Bogle and the 1865 Morant Bay rebellion. The film won the National Black Programming Consortium, Prized Pieces Award for best documentary in 1996/USA. In 2011 Shabazz’s film in the “romantic reggae” genre , The Story Of Lover’s Rock, became one of the highest grossing UK documentaries. It won the Jury Prize of Best Documentary at the Trinidad Film Festival (2012). Shabazz has also lectured and conducted workshops internationally, including in the Caribbean and throughout the UK and US at such venues and educational institutions as the National Film and Television School, University of Southampton, University of Leeds, University of North East London, University Westminster, London International Film School , British Film Institute, New York University and Howard University.
In 1998, Shabazz founded Black Filmmaker Magazine (bfm) the first black film publication aimed at the global black filmmaking industry, and over the next decade the publication was distributed in Europe and the US. In 1999 he started the bfm International Film Festival as a platform for screening black world cinema and to inspire British talent , which became the biggest of its kind in Europe.