The Stuart Hall Project

John Akomfrah has found an ideal subject for his cerebral, collagelike filmmaking in the Jamaican-born academic Stuart Hall, who helped create the field of cultural studies and the concept of multiculturalism. Hall (who died in February 2014) considered how our lives are shaped by the interrelated forces of family tradition, daily routine, politics, and popular culture; appropriately, Akomfrah constructs a multifaceted portrait of him. This graceful essay film (2013), assembled primarily from Hall’s radio and TV appearances, presents him in the contexts of the British left, the wave of former colonial subjects who emigrated to the UK in the 1950s and ’60s, and various black cultural movements. Akomfrah also assembles a soundtrack of Miles Davis recordings as an artistic corollary to Hall’s intellectual breakthroughs; though dense with ideas, this documentary flows like a piece of music.