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Quint's first movie of Sundance 2011 is an eye-opening civil rights doc called BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975!

Published at: Jan. 20, 2011, 10:35 p.m. CST

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. My first official screening at Sundance 2011 is the premiere of The Guard, but since I was in town I decided to hit up the press office early this afternoon and utilize their little screening cubby holes.

First of all, let me describe this process. You sign up for what’s essentially “Nexties!” on these little curtained off areas the size of a confessional booth. Against the wall is an HD TV, a DVD player, a chair and a pair of headphones. The fabric separating these screening cubby holes is thin, so the confessional image is complete since you can look to your left or right and see the vague shapes of others watching screeners.

I chose to watch a film called Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. I knew it was a documentary, I knew the title and I knew the picture that accompanied it in the guide. I also knew I couldn’t make it to any of the fest screenings, so this was my shot.

Due to the title and the image in the guide (pictured below) I figured it was about the impact of black music on the civil rights movement. I am embarrassed that I did not recognize Angela Davis, but in my defense the afro does take up 90% of the photo.

 

 

Outside of a Jackson 5 song at the opening, music has little to do with this doc, which is a year by year documentation of the Black Power movement starting in 1967. I know that sounds like a hundred different documentaries, some brilliant, some dull, but the difference here is that there’s not one second of footage from modern day.

On top of it being completely vintage as far as the footage there’s another rather unique angle: the story is told by whiter than white Swedish documentarians who kind of stumbled into this movement and were granted amazing access.

They came to America in 1967 and noticed a blindness (either a willing blindness or ignorant blindness) in the white population of a small town. The film opens with an interview with a small deli owner who gives a nice, impassioned speech to the camera about how every American has a freedom seen nowhere else in the world, from freedom of speech to the ability to make something of himself, provided they aren’t lazy, of course.

They immediately contrast this with the poor part of this very same town as a young black woman is struggling to raise her children.

That sounds totally manipulative (and it is), but thankfully the main thrust of the documentary is on the grassroots rising of the Black Power movement, with a sharp focus on Stokely Carmichael, an activist who was kind of the middle ground between Martin Luther King Jr’s passive resistance and Malcolm X’s more violent rhetoric.

At its best this documentary really highlights the point of view of the leaders of the Black Panthers and other Black Power groups, especially in the early days. We hear stories from those that were there, we see a real time slice of life for the working poor Black family, we see the horrible daily fight for some semblance of dignity and progress.

And it is at its best for a good long while. It’s not until the last act that things begin to drag, but that’s really not the filmmaker’s faults. The movement changes, the leaders are no longer the peaceful voices, like Dr. King, or the righteously angry “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” voices like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, but the fanatical voices like Lewis Farrakhan. We see an early ‘70s interview with Farrakhan that was scarier to me than any Black Panther “hunt the pig” chant shown in the hour before. The dude had crazy in his eyes and was certain that the white man is the devil and forcing dirty pork on society. Crazy shit.

I mean, we are the devil, but bacon is delicious. That was a gift!

But everything before was brilliant and surprisingly varied, showcasing everything from Harry Bellafonte’s travels with MLK, Dr. King’s assassination, the beginning of the Black Panther movement, Attica, Vietnam, Angela Davis’s multiple trials and a surprisingly intimate look at Stokely Carmichael. In fact some of my favorite stuff involved Stokely interviewing his mother, a light personal moment of such a inflammatory figure.

 

 

Second only to Stokely, Angela Davis’ wrongful persecution provided much of the narrative. Davis was tied to a shooting at a speaking event and even though she had nothing to do with the shooting, an example was being made on this outspoken civil rights activist. She was jailed for nearly 2 years as her trial date kept being moved and pushed before she was rightfully acquitted.

In order to frame a narrative they have different speakers narrate over certain sections, everybody from Bellafonte talking about Dr. King, accompanying silent footage of the two in a meeting with the King of Sweden, Erika Badhu, John Forte, Angela Davis herself (which is particularly enlightening considering how she’s practically the heart of the documentary), Melvin Van Peebles, Robin Kelley and Talib Kweli.

So, final verdict is this flick is quite an eye-opener that puts a human face on what most view as ancient history and a shocking perspective on how we’re still in the same cycle politically. Times have undoubtedly improved, but it’s shocking how much is still the same. Discrimination is still out there and I can’t help but think if we’re going to see a similar documentary about gay rights 40 years from now.

I’ll be back with more Sundance coverage very, very shortly. If you want an up to the minute account of what I’m seeing and my immediate verdict on Sundance flicks as I see them be sure to follow me on Twitter!

-Quint
quint@aintitcool.com
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Readers Talkback

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  • Jan. 20, 2011, 10:42 p.m. CST

    Sho Nuff'

    by MST3KPIMP

    i be first

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 10:46 p.m. CST

    Why NO "Yo!" in this artical?

    by helowsyos

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 10:49 p.m. CST

    "Quint's first movie of Sundance, Yo!"

    by helowsyos

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 10:52 p.m. CST

    I wonder what Angela Davis thinks of the Batman Casting

    by MST3KPIMP

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 10:56 p.m. CST

    Ever hear Farrakhan singing?

    by MST3KPIMP

    he was a calypso singer back in the day, you gotta seek out his stuff.. it'll blow your mind.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 11:06 p.m. CST

    Yo!

    by helowsyos

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 11:44 p.m. CST

    I hope it covered how hated MLK was by White America.

    by ganymede3010

    Yes, he did have Whites marching with him, however the majority of Americans had nothing but contempt or disdian agaisnt him. That's why so many Republicans voted against a MLK holidy back in the 80's, becase their constituents didn't care for him. According to them, intergration = Communism.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 11:57 p.m. CST

    Did it "Yo!" ?

    by helowsyos

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 12:33 a.m. CST

    Disappointed

    by Eric Fiksdal

    by those who have talked back so far. The issues that Quint brought up after his initial viewing and those that surround the entire history of this period of time resonate a great deal more with modern society than many would like to let on. He's correct when he writes that "we’re still in the same cycle politically." There is a lot that needs to be changed about this country and film could & should be a medium used to explore this. But only if it's taken seriously. Re: ganymede3010 Double check your facts. In all seriousness. In addition to your poor spelling (disdian agaisnt holidy becase intergration) you seem to have a poor grasp on the history of the US. I suggest you look into this country's true history before inaccurately judging it. P.S. On top of the shame you should already feel, you should feel horrible for even comparing what happened in the 1960s to votes taken in the 1980s.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 12:54 a.m. CST

    Most people in AMERICAN are NOT racist

    by helowsyos

    that's why we don't care for this crap. yo!

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:04 a.m. CST

    The More Things Remain the Same

    by barboo2

    @ Quint...Thanks for the effort. @ Fixyblue...Trying to reason with fools is the purest expression of wasted time. @ Fools...

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:12 a.m. CST

    @barboo2

    by Eric Fiksdal

    Well said. Sometimes it just gets to be too much not to say anything. And there's always hope... ...right?

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:12 a.m. CST

    ganymede3010, except MLK was a REPUBLICAN

    by mark steinfitz

    You just FAILED all over your pants, and need to go get them changed. <P> And the founder of the Republican party was a certain ABE LINCOLN who freed the slaves <P> FAIL AGAIN! <P> You also fail to mention that most of the racist southerners who were KKK members were DEMOCRAT (Robert Bird was a good example) <P> Oh well. I know, I know, white republicans = racist, democrats = friends of the oppressed minorities, right? <P> Except, democrats year after year after year, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, promise all these empowering programs, boosts, helps, to the poor inner city black neighborhoods.. and when do those promises come? NEVER. Name one single example where some double-standard liberal policy has helped anyone, except for maybe racist things like affirmative action or reparations, where white people are discriminated against... for basically, doing absolutely nothing wrong except "choosing" to be born white. <P> Discrimination programs do nothing but perpetuate the very poverty and slums in ghettos that they pretend to help. Conmen like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton NEED to have people in poverty, otherwise, they'd have no one to vote for them, keep them in power, or give them money. <P> Take it from Bill Cosby, who told the young black youth of today to get off their asses, stop blaming WHITEY for all their problems, to stop knocking women up and running from being fathers, and to get decent jobs. He's NOT an Uncle Tom racist, and he proves you can make it. Nuff said.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:12 a.m. CST

    Do any back people write for AICN?

    by helowsyos

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:15 a.m. CST

    hey helowsyos, I heard back people write for other pubs

    by mark steinfitz

    Like Armond WHITE, he is very back. <P> Baby got back?

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:15 a.m. CST

    @helowsyos - The nonracists are the ones who take interest...

    by Huey_Freemans_afro

    in the things "Most people in AMERICAN" would rather ignore and forget.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:17 a.m. CST

    ographyfett YOU ARE A GOD!!!

    by helowsyos

    Well said!

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:23 a.m. CST

    @ographyfett - Bravo for being the first on the talkback...

    by Huey_Freemans_afro

    to defend the white mans' honor. Downtrodden as he is, there's nothing worse than being reminded of any inequality that ever existed. Everyone knows the political stances were switched back in the day.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:27 a.m. CST

    Jesse Helms would admire your contempt.

    by Huey_Freemans_afro

    How dare white people from another country come and point out the results of our systematic prejudices anyway!

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:39 a.m. CST

    @ographyfett

    by Eric Fiksdal

    I...I honestly don't even know where to begin with your rant. Until you know the real history behind the inner cities, keep your hate to yourself. And for the love of god, please don't compare Lincoln's Republicans with the current GOP or the KKK with the current Dems. You only speak to your historical ignorance. Learn the history of the HOLC and the FHA and how the development of the suburb was prioritized while the black communities in urban cities were categorized as "Class D" (the lowest, just to make it clear) because they were more densely populated, older, and let's be honest, populated by those that the gov't and banks at the time thought were not as worthwhile. After you get a grip on that I'll move onto more advanced topics like how wrong your idea about the perpetuation of the ghetto and slums as a conscious choice is. Once you know the history of the development of the ghetto and the political parties, then maybe I'll take you seriously, ographyfett. Until then, keep your uneducated rants to yourself. You speak not of what you know nor of what you don't know but of what you fear. For everyone else, I'm sorry for going off track about the film Quint is writing about.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:40 a.m. CST

    Erm.....

    by starmin76

    the MLK Holiday was passed by one of the most conservative presidents of the 20'th century. So yeah, there's that. And everything that ographyfett just wrote

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:41 a.m. CST

    that comment was @ganymede3010, just to clarify

    by starmin76

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:44 a.m. CST

    favoring ANY "race" over another is always wrong, period

    by mark steinfitz

    And 2 wrongs don't make a right. <P> If people want to start being treated as equals, we need to stop thinking of things in terms of RACE altogether. <P> Its not a black thing, white thing, asian thing, its a PEOPLE thing. <P> And I'm not white btw. <P> I could be black, actually, or, scuse me 'african american'. <P> Except I never lived in Africa, not once ever. And my neighbors who are german, are not called "german-american". And my girlfriend, who's italian, is not considered "italian american". <P> Men discriminating against women and being mysoginist jerks, the solution is not women turning into feminist bitches and mistreating men.. if the mistreatment was wrong, why would it then not be hypocritical to turn the mistreatment on the opposite sex? <P> Any women who felt abused by men would be MASSIVELY hypocritical to go then do the same thing to men in the name of "female empowerment" <P> Life is not a power game, nor is it a class struggle. <P> Its not about races fighting for power, its not about the rich vs. the poor, and all that class warfare BS that is perpetuated by liberals who NEED it to perpetuate to keep them in power/give them money <P> Why don't we focus on what we have in common? The things that unite us? The things that bring us together, instead of trying to find every possible thing to fight about, disagree with, argue about, blame others, etc. <P> Stop making excuses based on religion/race/sex and discriminating against others on all the key points that jobs are not allowed to do when hiring people. <P> Find what you have in common with someone else to BRING US TOGETHER instead of tearing us apart.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:45 a.m. CST

    Thank you, Quint... but you may be throwing your pearls among swine.

    by Huey_Freemans_afro

    Some of these guys see the words "civil rights" and "black power" and see nothing more than an opportunity to flex their ugliness. I know them well.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:50 a.m. CST

    Speaking of talking to fools...

    by Huey_Freemans_afro

    Great line, barboo2! I'm not going to waste anymore time. Now if you all will excuse me, I have a young lady of a different ethnicity to make love to...

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:51 a.m. CST

    huey_freemans_afro, racism against white people

    by mark steinfitz

    is just as ugly as racism against blacks, or asians, or anyone else, agreed? You don't feel your white neighbor "owes" you some kind of handicap or monetary punishment because of terrible things people he didn't know, never met, and wasn't related to, apart from having the same skin color did to people with a different skin color? Lets just ask this question: Are non-whites capable of racism, ever, in any circumstance? And is racism to ANY race ever NOT OK, ever? If you answered NO to either one, we have a BIG problem. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt though bro.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:54 a.m. CST

    freemansafro, some people see "black power" & "civil rights"

    by mark steinfitz

    And think its a great time to be racist against white republicans, who they don't know, have never met, but discriminate against them based purely on skin color.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:55 a.m. CST

    some are just here because of the trolling fad

    by awardgiver

    and others are just fucking assholes. Great job Quint, cant wait to see it!

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:58 a.m. CST

    current trolling "fad"

    by mark steinfitz

    Started around 1996, maybe? Do a google search for "blood ninja" or "saga of the blood ninja" or "tales of the blood ninja". NSFW. Hilarious.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 2:39 a.m. CST

    MLK was not a Republican. You're purposely lying, douche bag

    by IndustryKiller!

    It's an absurd decontextualized claim and it's repugnant and cynical Republicans continue to use it. It's all right here. Nice try though. http://politifact.com/texas/statements/2011/jan/17/raging-elephants/houston-group-says-martin-luther-king-jr-was-repub/ <P> And What Liberal Policy has helped anyone? Oh try the ENTIRETY OF THE NEW DEAL. I love how 70 years on that one still sticks in the other sides craw.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 2:43 a.m. CST

    As far as Republicans using Lincoln

    by IndustryKiller!

    Again, more cynical decontextualized horseshit. The world of 1865 has NOTHING to do with the world of today. Nor does the Republican party then to now. Right I'm sure with today's Republicans bald faced hatred of homosexuals and Mexicans I'm sure they would have really been upright and in line with the government taking away slavery, which the economy of the SOuth was completely beholden to at the time. Nope no obvious logical conclusion can be drawn otherwise there.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 4:08 a.m. CST

    Good report

    by Darth Thoth

    Hope to be able to check this film out soon!

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 6:53 a.m. CST

    Identity is Victory!

    by brobdingnag

    "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". Trash like Angela Davis would fit in nicely with today's modern collectivist liberal.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 9:16 a.m. CST

    "I mean, we are the devil..."

    by phifty2

    I know you're joking but I also know you're kind of not joking. Fucking white guilt. Get over it. I never did shit to anyone based on their race and the President is black. We have moved forward. Some of us.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 11:35 a.m. CST

    industrykiller!

    by superman76

    Poor people were principal victims of the New Deal. New Deal programs were financed by tripling federal taxes from $1.6 billion in 1933 to $5.3 billion in 1940. Excise taxes, personal income taxes, inheritance taxes, corporate income taxes, holding company taxes and so-called "excess profits" taxes all went up. The most important source of New Deal revenue were excise taxes levied on alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, matches, candy, chewing gum, margarine, fruit juice, soft drinks, cars, tires (including tires on wheelchairs), telephone calls, movie tickets, playing cards, electricity, radios -- these and many other everyday things were subject to New Deal excise taxes, which meant that the New Deal was substantially financed by the middle class and poor people. Yes, to hear FDR's "Fireside Chats," one had to pay FDR excise taxes for a radio and electricity! It's ironic political historians give FDR credit for handling the political crisis of the 1930s, even though the most important factor in the crisis was double-digit private sector unemployment prolonged by FDR's misguided policies. Get your facts straight, industrykiller!

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 12:35 p.m. CST

    phifty2, brobdingnag, ographyfett

    by superman76

    you men are CORRECT. speak the truth, my brothers.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 1:40 p.m. CST

    Really? That's all you have Superman??

    by IndustryKiller!

    "But the New Dealw as partially funded with vice taxes!!!" Ummm....so fucking what. Yeah I expect taxes would rise int eh face of a massive social overhaul, being taken care of after you retire is worth it. Are you assuming I'm a greedy Republican and actually care? <P> And the only policy of FDR's that prolonged unemployment was not injecting even MORE capital into the economy. He dialed back the money flow,a nd that's when things started to slip slide back. Inconvenient for your side that what ultimately pulled us out was WW!! spending, which is really nothing more than a MASSIVE stimulus spending package. My facts are straight Superman, and yours are completely unimportant in the grand scheme.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 5:11 p.m. CST

    Quint did u really just say?

    by tom

    "So, final verdict is this flick is quite an eye-opener that puts a human face on what most view as ancient history and a shocking perspective on how we’re still in the same cycle politically. Times have undoubtedly improved, but it’s shocking how much is still the same." -Quint I mean really???? We have a black president. How much more change do u guys want. will no one be happy till all the white people are either dead or poor and living in the ghetto? I mean really 2011 is very effing different from 1890, 1920, 1930, 1950 and 1970. Once obama was president all black folks lost the right to complain about racism & the white man keeping them down. Becuase obviosly they are not, look BLACK PRESIDENT.. come on now. do wanna see the flick though love shit like this.

  • Jan. 21, 2012, 11:25 a.m. CST

    I just saw this doc. It was fantastic!

    by Huey_Freemans_afro

  • Jan. 21, 2012, 11:26 a.m. CST

    It looks like I get to have the last word a year later!

    by Huey_Freemans_afro

  • Jan. 21, 2012, 11:27 a.m. CST

    Most of you fuckers are idiots who have no idea what "Black Power" was about.

    by Huey_Freemans_afro

    "Racism against white people?" Clueless! Give me a fucking break.