Melvin Van Peebles, US, 1971, 97 min.
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Included in MoMA’s permanent collection and considered to be among the most significant features ever by an African-American filmmaker, Sweet Sweetback is a brutal and shocking story of survival, and an early entry to the Blaxploitation genre.
Director/writer/producer/editor/composer Melvin Van Peebles stars as a black orphan raised in a brothel and groomed to be a sex show performer. Set up by his boss and two corrupt cops for a murder he didn’t commit, Sweetback escapes custody and is thrust into an increasingly hallucinogenic world of violence and bigotry where no one can be trusted, and the possibility of death lurks at every corner…
Featuring a rousing score from a nascent Earth, Wind, & Fire and surrealist visuals from stalwart genre cinematographer Robert Maxwell (The Candy Snatchers), Van Peebles creates an unforgettable study of perseverance in the face of racism.
Film courtesy of Xenon Pictures, Vinegar Syndrome and the American Genre Film Archive