Rebellion, radical politics, boundary-pushing art, controversy, in addition to boundless creativity: the age of Black Power had the item all, in addition to more. This particular expansive film series, presented in conjunction with Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art inside Age of Black Power (opening Sep 14), features a kaleidoscopic international banquet of features in addition to shorts produced in This particular revolutionary climate by some of the era’s most incendiary talents. Confrontational, experimental, in addition to ripe for (re)discovery, these films powerfully evoke their own time in addition to unarguably speak to today’s climate, where black activists challenging widespread racial injustice find themselves targeted by a right-wing authoritarian administration.
The series begins with the US premiere of a fresh scan of Edouard de Laurot’s Black Liberation (aka Silent Revolution), a thrillingly unorthodox documentary in addition to continues with two of the era’s finest music films: Wattstax, a record of the all-star concert (featuring Isaac Hayes, Richard Pryor, The Staple Singers, Jesse Jackson, in addition to more) held to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts, LA rebellion; in addition to Right On!, a rare snapshot of NYC proto-rappers The Last Poets, which captures the group’s unique blend of protest in addition to lyricism.
Myriad key figures through the Black Power era are immortalized in a series of searing documentaries, including William Klein’s Eldridge Cleaver: Black Panther, Agnes Varda’s Black Panthers, in addition to Howard Alk’s pair The Murder of Fred Hampton—about the charismatic young Oakland Black Panther chair, cut down in his prime—in addition to American Revolution 2, covering the explosive fallout through the 1968 Democratic Convention. David Weiss’ recently restored No Vietnamese Ever Called Me Nigger is usually a stinging verité critique of American racism, while a triple-bill of films explore the complex in addition to urgent work of playwright, poet, in addition to activist Amiri Baraka (who changed his name through LeRoi Jones shortly after the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X): his own documentary The fresh-Ark; an adaptation of Dutchman, his claustrophobic play about the perils of interracial relationships; in addition to Ben Caldwell’s hypnotic short Medea, based on Baraka’s poem “Part of the Doctrine.” Gordon Parks, arguably the key African-American photographer of the era, is usually also represented using a screening of his moving period drama The Learning Tree, the first film made by an African-American director for a major Hollywood studio.
Say the item Loud boasts some of the era’s most radical, unclassifiable filmmaking inside shape of a wide-ranging experimental shorts program; William Greaves’ sui generis meta-documentary Symbiopsychotaxiplasm (screening alongside two rare shorts through the personal collection of legendary curator Pearl Bowser); Robert Downey Sr.’s wayward, wacky, hysterically funny Madison Avenue satire Putney Swope; in addition to Ivan Dixon’s controversial classic The Spook Who Sat By the Door, about a black CIA agent who plots an overthrow of the organization through within—so potent is usually the film’s call for revolution of which for years the FBI suppressed all prints of the item. Also included are seminal works through LA Rebellion filmmakers including Larry Clark’s Passing Through, Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, in addition to Haile Gerima’s Bush Mama, all vital statements of black emotional in addition to psychological interiority.
Black Power was not solely a US phenomenon, in addition to Say the item Loud’s global offerings include Mauritanian director Med Hondo’s extraordinary Soleil O, a portrait of an existentially ruffled African man in Paris; Sarah Maldoror’s Angolan anticolonial roar Sambizanga; in addition to two by the legendary Trinidadian-British filmmaker Horace Ové: Pressure, the first Black British feature film, in addition to Baldwin’s Nigger, in which James Baldwin in addition to comedian Dick Gregory address a crowd of student activists in London. (The latter is usually paired with Frankie Dymon Jr.’s Death May Be Your Santa Claus, a deeply weird melange of cannibalism, sex, in addition to Swingin’ Sixties rock ‘n’ roll.)
Last however not least, no survey of Black Power-era cinema might be complete without the galvanizing, electrifying presence of one-man-indie-movie-machine Melvin Van Peebles, whose Paris-set, Nouvelle Vague-inflected directorial debut The Story of a Three Day Pass (1968) screens alongside his antic, frantic, in addition to finally genuinely subversive race-bending comedy Watermelon Man (1970). This particular series-closing double bill segues into a week run of a fresh 4k restoration of Van Peebles’ landmark, self-starring thriller Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971), “rated X by an all-white jury” the film’s tagline claimed, in addition to hailed by Black Panthers co-founder Huey Newton as “the first truly revolutionary Black film ever made … presented to us by a Black man.”