5- For my last selection, I'll go with something that was released recently, since the other 4 are 30+ year-old productions.
Swedish director Goran Hugo Olsson’s The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, produced by Danny Glover, attempts to contextualizes the Black Power movement, at home and abroad, highlight its successes and failures, and note its importance today. It wants to raise awareness and reignite discussion on the movement, by introducing it to a new generation, in a format that may be more accessible to them – the concept we call the “mixtape,” hence the title.
The late 60s/early 70s saw Swedish interest in the US Civil Rights Movement peak; and with a demonstrated combination of commitment and naivete, Swedish filmmakers, armed with 16mm photography equipment, driven partly by what they perceived to be a shared objective with the Black Power Movement (broadly, equal rights for all), traveled across the Atlantic to investigate the movement, in order to confirm or nullify its purposefully negative portrayal by the US press. Their efforts resulted in some amazing and explosive 16mm footage of key Black Power figures and Civil Rights activists of the day.
The found footage includes interviews and even intimate moments with the likes of Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Ture, Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton, Harry Belafonte and an incarcerated Angela Davis. Watching a young, confident Davis’ lengthy and forceful retort, when questioned on the use of violence as a tool in revolution, was deeply affecting and invigorating. Stokely Carmichael discussing Martin Luther King Jr. and the meaning of nonviolent resistance, was also a stirring moment.
All that archival footage is layered with audio interviews from contemporary African American artists, activists, musicians and scholars, like Erykah Badu, Professor Robin Kelley, Talib Kweli, Melvin Van Peebles, and Sonia Sanchez.
The film is most certainly available on home video, and may even be streaming on Netflix as well.
Alright - so there you have it folks! A *starting five* list for this "revolution cinema" holiday weekend, as I'm calling it.
Obviously, there are so many other titles I could've included on the list, both fiction and non-fiction; part of my intent was to mix it up a bit, and give you what I think are some diverse, interesting options.
But there is indeed so much to choose from, so feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section below.