Movie Mondays: “Burning An Illusion” - Dir. Menelik Shabazz (1981).
Pat is a single woman, employed, financially independent, carefree and living in her own flat in London, until she meets suave and smooth talking Del. The two start dating and it isn’t long before Del moves in with Pat.
At first, things seem rosy between the them, that is, until Del quits (or loses) his job. As newly unemployed Del becomes more complacent with his situation, fully relying and taking advantage of the care that Pat and her job provide for him, their relationship takes a quick downward spiral and it isn’t long before things heatedly escalate.
Burning An Illusion is a powerful and important film for so many reasons. Not only does it feature a black woman as the central character, Pat - played by Cassie McFarlane - is a woman with complexities that defy stereotypes of black women throughout the history of Western cinema. She’s both strong and sensitive, defiant and desperate, lovestruck and lonely.
The film also tackles a number of issues related to gender roles and expectations within the Afro-Caribbean British community, black consciousness, race, class and other socio-economic factors that personally affect the film’s many characters.
In making this film writer and director Menelik Shabazz, born in Barbados, became the second black filmmaker to produce a feature film in Britain. Shabazz is also the founder of the BFM (Black Filmmakers) Film Festival in England.
The film won the Grand Prix at the Amiens International Film Festival in France, and actress Cassie McFarlane won the Evening Standard Award for “Most Promising New Actress”.
Burning an Illusion and director Menelik Shabazz were honoured with a Screen Nation Classic Film Award in October 2011.
The relationship between Pat and Del at times reminded me of the couple in Nothing But A Man.
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