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Red Carpet Memorial Tribute for Director Oscar S. Williams at Caribbean Cinemas Sunday

Director Oscar Williams at his craft (Photo Credit: Courtesy of David Williams)

Caribbean Cinemas will open its doors Sunday, Feb. 26, from 5 pm to 8 pm. Speakers will pay tribute to Oscar S. Williams. His film, “Five on the Black Hand Side,” will have its premiere screening afterward.

Crucian Oscar S. Williams was a motion picture director, writer, and producer of Afro-Caribbean heritage. He learned filmmaking in the US Army in the late 1960s. He later attended San Francisco State College and went on to produce his first full-length motion picture, “The Final Comedown,” starring Billy Dee Williams, at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

Williams represented an early wave of Black filmmakers who, after the achievements of the civil rights movement, successfully challenged the existing power structure in Hollywood to get more images of people of African descent onto the big screen.

Although “Five on the Black Hand Side” was not about a West Indian man and his family, he represented the stereotypical Caribbean man, according to Williams. With his Crucian heritage in tow, Williams gave voice to what he remembered hearing during the adult conversations as he was growing up on St.Croix. 

Williams was helpful to Danny Glover, the late Ja’Net DuBois, and Ayuko Babu to bring into existence the (Los Angeles) Pan African Film Festival, which, thirty years later, is the ‘largest Black film and arts festival and Black History Month activation in the United States.

Hollywood was his “stomping grounds” for more than five decades. He brought six full-length films and other projects to the screen while pursuing his dream of teaching film to the youth and conducting workshops in and around South Central Los Angeles and the Compton area. He taught cinema for 14 years at the University of Southern California Film School.

Oscar Williams at Dorsch Center teaching Claude O.Markoe students (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Diane Hampton)

Through his many endeavors, Williams earned a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2019, he attended the 50-year Anniversary at the American Film Institute In Los Angeles, surrounded by many of his peers, colleagues, and former classmates.

Williams had the “know-how” to do the work of teaching filmmaking, but after living for decades in remission from prostate cancer, it returned to other areas of his body. Many doors were closed to him in his battle to stay alive and maintain the struggle within a system that wasn’t working for him in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Cancer advocate Diane Hampton was a friend and supporter of Williams as he wrestled with life and living. She helped him with the rigors of applying for doctor’s visits at the Veterans Hospital in Los Angeles, where his initial surgery took place. The red tape was a cold reality that she had the ability, as an advocate, to work out.

When Williams went to the University of the Virgin Islands with a proposal, he was unable to convince UVI to add film to the curriculum. He wrote a request for a VICA grant to screen his film, “Five on the Black Hand Side,” so that school students would be able to view it, but glitches with his federal ID # worked against his attempt.

Five on the Black Hand Side film by Oscar Williams (submitted photo)

Williams’ son David lives and works in Qatar on the continent of Asia. At the request of David, Williams traveled to Qatar in late 2022 and lived with his son until his passing on January 30.

“Oscar Williams was also a father and a connoisseur of good food and fine clothing. He was an admirer of art and music. He used art to express the Afro-Caribbean consciousness and as a means to depict the struggle, lives, and loves of Black people of the Diaspora. As such, he was a man, a Black man who cherished his Afro-Caribbean ancestry,” David Williams said.

Films by Williams:

Director:

The Final Comedown (1972) – And Screenwriter

Five on the Black Hand Side (1973)

Hot Potato (1976) –  And Screenwriter

Death Drug (1978)

Writer:

Truck Turner (1974)

Black Belt Jones (1974)

Sponsors:
The VI Breast Cancer Project, a project of the St. Croix Foundation, the Caribbean Cinemas of Puerto Rico, and WTJX Broadcasting.

 

For more information:
vibreastcancerproject@gmail.com 

 

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