Jessie Patton Obituary, Death – According to Variety, the groundbreaking Black filmmaker Jessie Maple Patton, who worked on productions such as “Shaft’s Big Score,” passed earlier last week in Atlanta at the age of 86. In a statement that was provided by Patton’s family, they confirmed that she passed away quietly at her home on May 30 while she was surrounded by loved ones. The work that Patton did as a director and cinematographer had a profound impact on the opportunities available to Black women in the fields of entertainment and news.
According to a statement released by her family and distributed by the Black Film Center & Archive on Twitter, she is the “first Black woman to write and produce a full-length film independently” in the United States of America following the civil rights movement. Patton made history in the 1970s when she joined the International Photographers of Motion Picture & Television Union as the first Black woman to do so.
According to Variety, Patton chronicles the protracted legal battle that occurred prior to her induction into the New York camera operators union in her book titled “How to Become a Union Camerawoman.” Patton wrote this book. According to a profile that was published in Ebony in 1976, she was also a member of the Film Editor’s Union as well as the Cinematographer’s Union. “Her films, books, and unapologetic push to highlight discrimination and injustices with the news and entertainment industries will remain with us,” the family stated in their statement, which was made public after her passing.
According to Variety, before beginning his career as a journalist for the New York Courier, the native of Louisiana worked as the director of a bacteriology and serology laboratory during the 1960s and 1970s. Patton decided to pursue a career in the entertainment business after gaining knowledge about third world cinema from Ossie Davis in a class at the National Education Television Training School.
According to ABC4.com, the Patton-directed independent feature film from 1981 titled “Will,” which stars Loretta Devine, is currently being digitized by the Smith Center for the Digitization and Curation of African American History (NMAAHC/Smithsonian).
According to Variety, Patton and her husband, Leroy Patton, established LJ Productions and maintained a theater in Harlem that presented films by independent Black filmmakers. One of the first Black women directors to finish a film of feature length, she is a giant. Her work as an advocate, mentor, and caregiver has had a profound impact on generations of Black filmmakers. Maya Cade, the founder and director of the Black Film Archive, said in a tweet that “her passing is a genuine and profound loss.”