The Stuart Hall Project

The Stuart Hall Project

Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 7:00PM
Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema at SFU Woodward’s
149 W Hastings St. Vancouver, BC

Film is rated PG (Advisory: Advisory: violence; depiction of suicide; theme of racism)
Run Time: 103 minutes

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Motion Pictures Film Series is supported by   

In celebration of Black History Month, DOXA’s Motion Pictures Film Series, the SFU Institute for the Humanities, and SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement are very pleased to present the Vancouver premiere of John Akomfrah’s remarkable film portrait The Stuart Hall Project.

One of the founding figures of the New Left and a key architect of Cultural Studies, Stuart Hall came to prominence at the BBC, and over the course of a 50 year career in radio and television established himself as one of the UK’s leading intellectuals. In an essay about the film, director John Akomfrah writes: “Stuart Hall was kind of a rock star for us. For many of my generation in the 70s… he was one of the few people of colour we saw on television who wasn’t crooning, dancing or running. His very iconic presence on this most public of platforms suggested all manner of ‘impossible possibilities.”

The Stuart Hall Project marries clips of Hall’s work, drawn from more than 100 hours of archival footage, with the music of Miles Davis (a lifelong obsession of Hall’s). From the beginning of his career, the personal and political were intimately conjoined, but Hall credits his wife Catherine with introducing him to the integration of lived experience and ideology. “Feminism taught me the difference between a conviction in the head and a change in the way you live,” he explains. The film eschews standard biographical linearity in favour of a more expansive and free-floating approach that examines everything from the Suez Crisis to the Vietnam War.

An effortlessly graceful testimony to the power and poetry of human thought, composed of images drawn from newsreel clips, interviews and personal photos, The Stuart Hall Project closes with a quote from Antonio Gramsci: “I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.” A fitting summation of Hall’s profound humanity and enduring commitment to reason and compassion applied in equal measure.

Amid the audiovisual bricolage, it is notable just how accessible Hall’s ideas are, given their intellectual weightiness. This is partly down to the seductively allusive manner of the film’s editing, but also the compelling presence of the subject: Hall is gregarious, good-looking and highly charismatic – a pleasure to spend time with.” – British Film Institute

John Akomfrah's film is a tribute to the critic and New Left Review founder Stuart Hall – a montage of existing documentary footage and Hall's own words and thoughts on film. It has an idealism and high seriousness that people might not immediately associate with the subject Hall pioneered: cultural studies. This is not about, say, postmodern readings of Lady Gaga, but a deeply considered project that reconsiders culture and identity for those excluded from the circles of power through race, gender and class.The Guardian

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The screening will be followed by a moderated discussion with special guests and the audience.


Stuart Poyntz is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication and part of the Steering Committee of the Institute for the Humanities. His research on children's and youth media cultures has long developed in the shadow of Stuart Hall's work. He has written on the history of media literacy, youth and urban space, and the place of stranger hospitality in youth cultures. 


Samir Gandesha is Associate Professor of Modern European thought and Culture in the Department of the Humanities and the Director of the Institute for the Humanities at SFU. His writings have appeared in New German Critique, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Political Theory, Thesis Eleven and in several edited volumes. He is the co-editor with Lars Rensmann of "Arendt and Adorno: Political and Philosophical Investigations" (Stanford, 2012) and is finishing a book with Johan Hartle on "The Poetry of the Future: Marx and the Aesthetic" and another one entitled "Homeless Philosophy."   

Daniel Tseghay is a freelance writer, an editor at The Mainlander, and co-host of Mainlander Radio on Vancouver co-operative radio.

Maria Wallstam is an editor and writer for The Mainlander, geography graduate student at SFU, and currently involved in the Social Housing Alliance.