Gardner’s first film, the award-winning 1995 documentary The Caster, was a cultural touchstone for many people who saw it at the time, but the film is not widely known today.
It was also the first film by a Black actor to receive the Academy Award, but its depiction of the racism that plagued America during the Jim Crow era did not receive the same acclaim.
Gardner’s film tells the story of Black men, women and boys who, for decades, were told by white America that they were inferior.
“There’s a history of racial discrimination in the United States and it’s never been as blatant,” he said.
“The history of that history is never discussed.
But the reality is that there are a lot of people who feel they’ve been wronged.”
Gardners views were shaped by the legacy of slavery and racism that was brought to America during his youth.
“I had a lot to do with that,” he told the ABC.
“We were taught by our parents to believe that black people were subhuman, that they weren’t human, and that they couldn’t be treated with respect.”
Garde’s early career as an actor was spent in the UK, but it was the 1970s that would change his life.
He was a part of the first wave of British Black actors to be awarded Oscars.
“They would award me the Best Actor Oscar and I would be very proud of that because I was the first black British actor to win that award,” he recalled.
Garde said that the award ceremony, like many of his awards, was not always received with pride.
“It was a moment when I was really struggling and really angry and very, very disappointed,” he explained.
“And then I think, oh, I’ve got it, I can get it.
He said he thought about the award that night.
“In my mind, I was thinking about the first time that I’d been on that stage and that the whole world had heard my voice and I had the confidence to speak for them,” he says.
“Then I think about how the awards are given out, and I’m thinking about how I feel about them, and how I wish that I had more people like me.”‘
I didn’t want it’But he never expected to be the person who made it.
“People think I was a little bit cocky, a little naive and that I thought I’d get a big award, but I didn’t think that I was going to get anything,” he admitted.
“So when I got the Oscar nomination I was like, well, I didn, I really didn’t have any idea that I would ever be nominated.”
Garry Jenkins, the director of the film, said he wanted to bring the story to Australia.
“He wanted to be a pioneer, a pioneer in his own right,” Jenkins said.
He said that he was encouraged by the response to the film.
“One of the things that surprised me the most was that I got so many messages of support, not just in Australia but also in America, in the States and across Europe,” he continued.
“Even in England, people are talking about it and saying, ‘I’ve got a friend who was in the film who really wanted to see it, he wants to see what you’re going through’.”
Garde was honoured with an Academy Award for his work on The C.G.E.A. and the first Oscar for Best Cinematography.
“This is what I have done,” he remembered.
“To be the first person to ever receive an Academy award for my work, and also to be an Oscar nominee, that’s pretty amazing.”
That’s the greatest honour you can have.