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After directing the successful Godfrey Cambridge comedy WATERMELON MAN for Columbia Pictures in 1970, director Melvin Van Peebles was offered a three-picture deal with the studio. But he instead struck out on his own, raising funds independently (including $50,000 from Bill Cosby) to make and release the landmark Blaxploitation film SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG, written, co-produced, scored (performed by a then-unknown Earth, Wind & Fire), edited, directed by and starring Van Peebles. Aiming to make the first Black Power film, Van Peebles created the character of Sweetback, an orphan who grew up in a Los Angeles brothel and now performs in a live sex show. After he and a young Black Panther named Mu-Mu (Hubert Scales) escape from the custody of crooked cops, Sweetback goes on the lam, all the way to Mexico. DIR/SCR/PROD Melvin Van Peebles; PROD Jerry Gross. U.S., 1971, color, 97 min. RATED R

AFI Member passes accepted.

Film courtesy of Xenon Films, Vinegar Syndrome and the American Genre Film Archive

97 Minutes
Crime drama


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