Internationally recognized cinema scholar and UCLA professor Teshome Gabriel, died June 15 of sudden cardiac arrest in Panorama City, Calif. He was 70.
Gabriel had taught cinema and media studies at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television since 1974. A pioneering academic and an expert on Third World cinema, much of his work focused on the intersection of film and culture, publishing books including “Otherness and the Media: The Ethnography of the Imagined and the Imaged” and “Third Cinema in the Third World: The Aesthetic of Liberation.” His 1990 essay, “Nomadic Aesthetic and the Black Independent Cinema,” received an Opus Award from Village Voice.
“The principal characteristic of Third Cinema,” Gabriel wrote, “is not so much where it is made, or even who makes it, but rather, the ideology it espouses. The Third Cinema is that cinema of the Third World which stands opposed to imperialism and class oppression in all their ramifications and manifestations.”
Born in 1939 in Ethiopia, Gabriel immigrated to the U.S. and attended the U. of Utah and then UCLA.
Gabriel was a colleague and mentor to the African-American and African student filmmakers of the 1960s and ’70s whose work came to define the Los Angeles School of black filmmakers, also known as the “L.A. Rebellion.” The group included such helmers as Charles Burnett, Larry Clark, Julie Dash, Haile Gerima, Billy Woodberry, Alile Sharon Larkin, Jamaa Fanaka and Barbara McCullough.
“He was a brilliant, gracious, elegant and generous man,” said Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. “Teshome was a consummate professional and a truly beloved faculty member.”
Survivors include his wife, Maaza Woldemusie, a son and a daughter.
Donations may be made to the UCLA Foundation memorial fund that will support students in TFT’s Cinema and Media Studies program. Donations can be sent to Peter Heller at the Development Office of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Box 951622, Los Angeles, Calif. 90095-1622. Please make checks payable to “UCLA Foundation,” and in the memo line, please write “In memory of Professor Teshome Gabriel.”