SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG
USA 1971. Dir: Melvin Van Peebles. 97 min.
New Restoration! “Rated X by an all-white jury,” declared posters for Melvin Van Peebles’s badass 1971 feature, a landmark of African-American independent filmmaking — and, with Gordon Parks’s Shaft, released the same year, a work that launched the transformative blaxploitation movement. Van Peebles — the film’s director, writer, producer, editor, composer, and star — plays brothel-raised sex stud Sweetback, who decides to take on The Man after he witnesses two corrupt white cops beating up a black activist. The film, incendiary and uncompromising, employs avant-garde and art-house techniques in its rendering of an hallucinogenic world of violence, distrust, and racism. There’s also more than a little raunch! Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton praised Sweet Sweetback as “the first truly revolutionary Black film.” Van Peebles’s soundtrack is performed by Earth, Wind & Fire, who had formed the year before. Film courtesy of Xenon Pictures, Vinegar Syndrome and the American Genre Film Archive.
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Fri, Feb 15 – 6:30pm
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