John Akomfrah OBE


John Akomfrah, whose 1986 directorial debut was Handsworth Songs about the fallout from the riots in Birmingham, collected his OBE last week for services to film. From the press release sent in by Pogus Caesar (who owns the photo above):

A founding member of the Black Audio Film Collective (1982-98), the legendary Black British film group, Akomfrah work has proved immensely influential on the evolution of black filmmaking in Britain and the USA, opening the way for many young black and Asian film makers to enter the film and television industries.

In 1987, Akomfrah won the coveted Grierson Award with his first film, the independently produced Handsworth Songs. Hailed as one of the most influential documentaries ever made and it garnered a range of International Awards. Handsworth Songs was also one of the first documentaries to be successfully released in British cinemas.

John is also a multi-award winning director with over twenty international film awards for his wide range of feature films, factual, programmes, documentaries and shorts covering a variety of musical icons such as Louis Armstrong, Goldie, Stan Tracey, Lauryn Hill. His films have also looked at inspirational black figures such as Martin Luther King , Kwame Nkrumah and Malcolm X.

John Akomfrah recently finished serving a six year term on the Governing Board of the British Film Institute; he is currently on the of Boards of both Film London and the London International Film School. He is also a Visiting Professor of Film at the University Of Westminster.

John saw a full retrospective of his work with the Black Audio Film Collective open at Foundation for Creative Technologies in Liverpool in February 2007. Designed by acclaimed architect and designer David Adjaye – architect of the new Nobel Prize Centre in Oslo – the Retrospective encompassed all the feature films and documentaries made by the collective screened in a specially designed gallery setting. The show received rave reviews in The Guardian and Frieze Magazine.


  1. Well deserved recognition, there’s always the odd bright spot to prop up our corrupt honours system, the exhibition at FACT last year was excellent.

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