The 5th annual Black Panther Party Film Festival, produced by the Black Panther Commemoration Committee, in conjunction with Maysles Cinema here in NYC, opens its doors this evening, running in 2 sections - first from September 27th-28th, and then from October 3rd-5th.
Included in the festival's lineup this year is a special (and very fitting) screening of Melvin Van Peebles'Sweet Sweetback's Baasasssss Song, TONIGHT at 7pm, which will be followed by a Q&A with Mr Van Peebles himself, who'll be present, live.
I'm only just finding out about this (the email announcement was buried in my spam folder), so sorry for the short notice! If you're in NYC, and you're looking for something to do this evening, head on up (or down, depending on where you live) to Harlem, for tonight's screening and Q&A with the man himself.
Without further ado, here's the full festival schedule, courtesy of Maysles:
Full Program Description For First Weekend (September 27th-28th)
Friday, September 27th, 7:00pm
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song
Melvin Van Peebles, 1971, 97 min.
After saving a Black Panther from some racist cops, a black male sex worker goes on the run from "the man" with the help of the community and some disillusioned Hells Angels. Written, produced, and directed by, and starring Melvin Van Peebles and independently financed, in part with a $50,000 loan from Bill Cosby, Sweetback was initially screened at two theaters in the U.S. and went on to gross 5 million at the box office. Huey P. Newton welcomed the film's revolutionary values and Sweetback became required viewing for the Black Panther Party. It demonstrated to Hollywood that films that portrayed "militant" black characters could be highly profitable, leading to the creation of the Blaxploitation genre, although most don't considerSweetback an exploitation film. Earth Wind & Fire, who did the score, were introduced to the world by this film. This verite, narrative gem also introduced fast-paced montages and jump-cuts to American audiences.
Post-screening Q&A with director Melvin Van Peebles!Saturday, September 28th, 4:00pmJustifiable HomicideJon Osman and Jonathan Stack, 2002, 85 min.On Jan. 12, 1995, two young Puerto Rican residents of the Bronx, Anthony Rosario and Hilton Vega, were shot to death by detectives of the New York Police Department. The officers said they were acting in self-defense, firing on two men in the act of committing an armed robbery. A grand jury believed them, and no charges were brought against them. The makers of Justifiable Homicide suggest that the subsequent firings of the director of the review board and the investigators assigned to the Rosario-Vega case were a result of the Giuliani administration's desire to make the case go away. Justifiable Homicide is an exploration of the killings and their aftermath.Post-screening panel discussion.
Saturday, September 28th, 7:00pm
The FBI's War on Black America
Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller, 1991, 47 min.
The FBI's War on Black America offers a thought provoking look at a government-sanctioned conspiracy, the FBI's counter intelligence program known as Cointelpro. This documentary establishes historical perspective on the measures initiated by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI which aimed to discredit black political figures and forces of the late 1960's and early 1970's. Combining declassified documents, interviews, rare footage and exhaustive research, it investigates the government's role in the assassinations of Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and Martin Luther King Jr. The film reflects the rigorous research which went into its making, and portrays the nation's unrest during the period it recounts.
Post-screening panel discussion with original members of the Black Panther Party.Invited Director Melvin Van PeeblesFeatured Speakers: Directors Margarita Rosario, Stephen Vittoria, Ojore Lutalo & Joanne L. Hershifield. Attorneys Jill Soffiyah Elijah & Joan Gibbs. Panthers Bullwhip, Cleo Silvers, Pam Hanna, Cisco Torres, Shaba-Om, & Jamal Josephs. Also King Downing, Shaka Shakur and Bonnie Kerness.Produced by the Black Panther Commemoration Committee, in conjunction with Maysles Cinema.The Maysles Documentary Center was founded by legendary documentarian Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens, Salesman, Gimme Shelter). The Center is a not for profit organization, dedicated to the exhibition and production of documentary films that inspire dialogue and action. Through our cinema and education programs we engage diverse communities in creative self-expression, communicating ideas and advocating needs. The Cinema at the Maysles Documentary Center is a 60-seat venue in Harlem, with programming directed by Jessica Green.Maysles Cinema is located at 343 Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Boulevard, between 127th and 128th Streets, New York, NY 10027. Screenings are open to the public with a suggested donation of $10. Subway: Take the 2/3,4/5/6, A/B/C/D trains to 125th Street.The Maysles Documentary Center is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council for the Arts (NYSCA), the City Council and the Union Square Awards.