By John H. Foote
The first African American to ever be nominated for the Academy Award as Best Director has died. Fifty one year old filmmaker John Singleton died today after being removed from life support. Singleton slipped into a coma after suffering a massive stroke last week. Initially there was hope, but his condition rapidly declined in the last few days. Just twenty four when nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, for his film Boyz N the Hood (1991), Singleton established a reputation for bringing powerful, honest stories to the screen which explored the black experience. Based on his experiences growing up in East LA, he shot the film in his old neighbourhood.Among his more notable works were the powerful remake Shaft (2000) and perhaps best of all, FourBrothers (2005). I am not convinced he ever surpassed the artistry of his first film. Singleton was known for being hugely supportive of young black film artists and often was responsible for their films being made. A huge loss for his family and the film community.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.