11 January 2008

St. Clair Bourne: 1943 - 2007

St. Clair Bourne

Documentary writer, producer and director, St. Clair Bourne recently died due to a pulmonary embolism after surgery for a non-malignant brain tumor.

First, I want to express my deepest condolences to his family. He is survived by his sister, Judy Bourne.

It seems that he touched many lives in the filmmaking world, including my own, as I learned when I joined the BDC (Black Documentary Collective) in 2007. During my first meeting, his name came up many times, affectionately, humorously and definitively.

Last year while in search of someone to become an executive producer to the IU project, I looked up St.'s website and contacted him via email. I kid you not, no less than 30 minutes later, I get a phone call from St. Clair Bourne to talk about my project! He did not know me, had never heard of my name, but told me that the project was good idea and was glad that someone was working on it. He was unable to work on IU, but did give me several leads to follow up on.

This past September, I finally was able to meet him face to face at the annual IFP market in New York City. He had just spoken on a panel and by virtue of his opinions and point of view become the odd man out on it on issues of race and ethics in documentary filmmaking. He however, never lost his cool and was always logical about his statements. I admired him for that.

St. Clair Bourne had done many tremendous projects, including but not limited to, as producer, the Emmy nominated "Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks", and as director, "John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk" and American Masters' "Paul Robeson: Here I Stand." Other subjects included Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka and themes like religion, politics, music and the Black West. He even made "Making of Do the Right Thing" a behind the scenes documentary about the production of Spike Lee's film of the same name. His works have been seen on HBO, PBS, BBC, NBC and CBS. His projects always were from an African American perspective.

There are at least a couple of ceremonies planned in his honor:

A Memorial Service will be held at 7:00 pm on the 25th of January 2008 at The Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, Manhattan, with a reception following. A small group of family members, Saint’s closest friends, and a couple of his oldest and closest colleagues are involved in the planning of this celebration of his life.

A Tribute to Saint Clair Bourne
Featuring George Alexander, Nelson George, Esther Iverem, Armond White and others..
Sunday, February 10, 2:00 p.m.
Museum of the Moving Image
35 Avenue at 36th Street, Astoria, Queens, New York
(718) 784-0077 - Please call for more information.

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