Britain’s First Black Screen Star. African Odysseys

Sunday 1 August 2pm

Actor-director Burt Caesar presents an illustrated overview of the unique seven-decade career in film and television of this modest pioneer, Earl Cameron. A panel discussion featuring guests such as Esther Anderson, Carmen Monroe and Baroness Lola Young will consider Earl Cameron’s skill, achievement and legacy. There will also be time for the panel to respond to questions and comments from the audience.

‘We all liked and admired him. He worked all the time, and gave each role tremendous dignity and humanity’
Actor and contemporary Nadia Cattouse

When Earl Cameron passed away in July 2020 at 102 his venerable age included seven decades of memorable performance on screen. He made his major debut in Basil Dearden’s Pool of London in 1950. The African American titan Paul Robeson had been the only other male Black actor to have starred in a British film, back in the 1930s. The trajectory of Cameron’s unique film and television career, alongside some of the prime screen actors of post-war Britain (Bogarde, Attenborough, Connery, Baker), includes a 15-year interval of spiritual retreat in the Solomon Islands in service to the Baha’i faith. Trailblazer, groundbreaker, godfather, pioneer… These are the verdicts of hindsight. What’s on celluloid from the start is Cameron’s luminous, naturalistic presence, a quality of ease and repose in front of the camera: the sure mark of a star whatever the size of the role or the billing status on a poster.

Burt Caesar, season co-curator

Want more?
Read the BFI obituary to Earl Cameron

Season co-curated by actor-director Burt Caesar and the BFI’s Marcus Prince and David Somerset

Link for season


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