Tuesday 22 October 2019

'Boyz N The Hood' film director Singleton (51) dies after stroke

Groundbreaking: John Singleton was the first black director nominated for an Oscar. Photo: Getty Images
Groundbreaking: John Singleton was the first black director nominated for an Oscar. Photo: Getty Images

Jake Coyle

Director John Singleton, who made one of Hollywood's most memorable debuts with the Oscar-nominated 'Boyz N The Hood' and continued over the following decades to probe the lives of black communities in his native Los Angeles and beyond, has died aged 51.

Singleton's family said he died in Los Angeles, surrounded by family and friends, after being taken off life support. Earlier this month, he suffered a major stroke.

Singleton was in his early 20s, just out of the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, when he wrote, directed and produced 'Boyz N The Hood'.

Based on Singleton's upbringing and shot in his old neighbourhood, the low-budget production starred Cuba Gooding Jr and Ice Cube and centred on three friends in South Central Los Angeles, where college aspirations competed with the pressures of gang life.

It was a critical and commercial hit, given a 20-minute standing ovation at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival and praised as a groundbreaking extension of rap to the big screen, a realistic and compassionate take on race, class, peer pressure and family. Singleton would later call it a "rap album on film".

Singleton became the first black director to receive an Academy Award nomination, an honour he would say was compensation for the academy's snubbing Spike Lee and 'Do The Right Thing' two years earlier, and was nominated for best screenplay, losing out to 'Thelma & Louise'. At 24, he was also the youngest director nominee in Oscar history.

"I think I was living this film before I ever thought about making it," Singleton told 'Vice' in 2016.

In 2002, 'Boyz N The Hood' was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, which called it "an innovative look at life and the tough choices present for kids growing up in South Central Los Angeles".

Singleton's death followed a turbulent week during which his family members made opposing court filings regarding his health. He had been in intensive care in a Los Angeles hospital since he had a stroke on April 17.

Irish Independent

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