“You bled my momma – you bled my poppa – but you won’t bleed me “
Sweetback, a performer in a sex show, is captured by the police, violently interrogated and framed for murder. After he defends a Black Panther from a brutal assault, he breaks out he flees through decrepit South Central Los Angeles. Using his formidable abilities, he evades the manhunt by any means necessary.
One of the most polarising American films ever made! Written, produced, scored, edited, directed by, and starring Melvin Van Peebles, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song is raw, low budget and totally independent – and amongst the first, and most important examples of African American cinema. Born out of the climate surrounding the civil rights struggle, it is seen as a potent reaction to the general depiction at the time by Hollywood of African Americans as, stereotyped, marginalized and disempowered. Lauded as a militant yet refreshing cinematic breakthrough for black aesthesis in film (it was mandatory viewing for the Black Panther Party), or condemned as crass and lurid merchandising of social injustice, it somehow comes across as a audacious mix of both commercial and ideological ingredients. Totally uncompromising and ocassionaly grindingly repetitive, it nevertheless accumulates a kind of hallucinatory groove, with unexpected shafts of bizarre humour and vigorous, experimental new wave direction (psychedelic negative images, split screen etc.). Trailblazing and certainly one of a kind, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song, led to the creation of the blaxploitation genre.
Rated X by an all white jury!