Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song

Arguably the most important black American film of its age, yet it's remained virtually unseen in Britain. In part that's because it is truly independent, shot on a shoestring and determinedly flouting Hollywood conventions of self- censorship. A 'Yeah Production', 'starring The Black Community', and dedicated to 'all the Brothers and Sisters who had enough of the Man', it's not what you'd call 'bourgeois art'. The story, such as it is, concerns a stud, Sweetback (Van Peebles), who's moved to fight back when two white cops casually beat up a political activist in front of him. He's on the run for the rest of the movie, with occasional stops for sex and/or further police brutality. Totally uncompromising and grindingly repetitive, the film nevertheless accumulates a kind of hallucinatory groove, with unexpected shafts of bizarre humour and vigorous, experimental new wave direction (psychedelic negative images, split screen and so forth). Written, composed, produced, directed and edited by Van Peebles, it remains one of a kind.

Release details

Duration: 97 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Screenwriter: Melvin Van Peebles
Cast: Melvin Van Peebles
Rhetta Hughes
John Amos
Simon Chuckster
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