Reading Circle Pages

Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

St. Clair Bourne: A sad loss to the film community

I just learned that filmmaker St. Clair Bourne passed away after surgery Saturday, Dec. 15. My prayers to out to his family. He is already missed so much!

Pan African Film & Arts Festival NewsletterLos Angeles February 7-18, 2008One City, 12 Days, Over 80 Countries...Film::Art::Culture::Community
Monday, December 17, 2007

PAFF Mourns Loss of Veteran Filmmaker St. Claire Bourne
Photo credit: Ian Foxx

Reknowned documentary filmmaker St. Clair Bourne died early Saturday morning (Dec. 15) in a New York hospital after an operation to remove a brain tumor. He was 64. According to his sister Judith, St. Clair made it through surgery without complication only to be attacked in the aftermath by a blood clot in his lung. Bourne was a veteran producer, director and writer of documentaries for HBO, PBS, NBC, Sundance Channel, BBC, National Geographic.

Bourne was the recipient of the 2007 PAFF Pioneer Award.
On Nov. 30th, before entering the hospital, Bourne wrote in his
"I'm writing to let you know that the usual stream of CHAMBA NOTES will not be forthcoming for about a month. I am scheduled to undergo an operation within the next couple weeks to remove a benign tumor that is pressing against my brain. While this is scary, the operation is not as dangerous as it sounds. First of all, the tumor is benign but it does periodically causes spasms and numbness in my left arm and leg. Second, the surgery will not penetrate the brain itself because the tumor is located on the surface of the brain. Finally, this type of operation, while not quite routine, has become commonplace enough so that most of the previous difficulties in this procedure have been worked out. I hope to be back in action by the new year. Send me your best wishes, prayers and good vibes. - St.Clair Bourne"

As head of his production company Chamba Mediaworks, Inc., Bourne made more than 45 films concentrating on cultural and political themes. Among the most notable, Bourne produced the feature-length, Emmy-nominated documentary "Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks" about the photojournalist and filmmaker for HBO. With actor Wesley Snipes as executive producer, Bourne directed "John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk," a feature length documentary about the respected historian and Pan-African activist. He also directed "Paul Robeson: Here I Stand!," a 2-hour documentary for the "American Masters" PBS series followed by "Melvin and Mario at Sundance," a documentary short for the Sundance Channel.
At the time of his death, Bourne was developing two dramatic feature film projects: "The Bride Price," a contemporary thriller set in Senegal about a romance between an African-American businessman and an African holy man's daughter and "The Visitor," about an African Muslim filmmaker's visit to his African-American counterpart just as the 9/11 attack erupts. He was shooting two documentaries: one about veteran Black photography Ernest Withers (who shot the Martin Luther King assassination photos), and the other, a documentary series on the rise, fall and legacy of the Black Panther Party for the PBS network.

Bourne was a founder of the Black Documentary Collective, a New York-based documentary service organization as well as the LA-based Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers-West.

His popular blog, "Chamba Notes," was a personal commentary about current productions, new projects, opinions, musings, political analysis, even short, any information about new and traditional media production and distribution with a special focus on - but not exclusively about - the African Diaspora.
Bourne is survived by a sister, Judith Bourne, a lawyer in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.