— rabatjoie

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Yesterday I went to a preview screening of The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 at the MK2 Beaubourg. The film, directed by swedish documentary filmmaker Göran Hugo Olsson, consists mainly of footage that was discovered in the archives of a swedish television station after having been forgotten for over 30 years. It does a decent job in introducing the uninformed spectator to the different variants of black radical movements in the sixties and seventies, and holds some unseen footage for the more seasoned viewers interested in this period of time.

The best moments of the film arise when the stage is left to the charismatic personalities of the time, especially Stokley Carmichael and Angela Davis. These historic documents are counterpointed by voice-overs recorded in 2010, where veteran activists but also current figures such as Questlove, Talib Kweli and Erykah Badu comment on the impact that these speeches had on them, or in the case of Talib Kweli, who was held up by police in 2001 for having listened to speeches of Stokley Carmichael, what consequences they can still have.

However, at times it seems that the film does not so much attempt to provide a comprehensive presentation and analysis of the various political movements, but rather tries to present absolutely all of the footage that had been found. This may explain why the film makes a detour into a quarrel between swedish television and the US publication TV Guide, which is funny to watch but which does not really contribute anything to the topic at hand. In the same fashion, the drug problem in the early seventies is dealt with briefly, but again it seems that this is done because there is some footage rather than because it makes sense in the overall plot – in order for that to be the case, the problem would have to have been analyzed more thoroughly.

For all its shortcomings, The Black Power Mixtape is an eminently necessary film today – for actually talking about the last real revolutionary movements that the U.S. of A. have seen in the twentieth century, and for separating the different movements that are usually thrown into one and the same pot nowadays. One can only hope that this film finds further distribution, and is not destined to exist in the obscurity of documentary film festivals that reach only a handful of people.


Official Site
Review in the NY Times

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