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New York Premiere

USA | 108 MINUTES | English |


The release of Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song in 1971 was more than just a watershed moment in the history of independent cinema. It also marked the culmination of a Herculean effort by filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles to buck the honky unions, stay one step ahead of his creditors, and get his vision enacted on screen without interference from the suits -- all while hassling the Man at every conceivable opportunity. In fact, the story behind the making of Sweetback may be more engrossing, from a narrative point of view, than Sweetback itself! Now, 30 years after his father turned the film world on its ear, Mario Van Peebles takes on the challenge of telling that story, and succeeds brilliantly. Playing his own father, Van Peebles fils crafts an honest and revealing portrait of Melvin at the height of his cinematic power and influence. Rollicking, hilarious, and unsparing in its depiction of the guerrilla filmmaking process of the early 1970s, Baadasssss! depicts Melvin as he struggles to raise money to finance his magnum opus under the guise of creating a black porno film, bails out his crew after a cracker cop decides "a bunch of Negroes and hippies" can't have come by their camera equipment honestly, and perseveres through a series of death threats to shepherd his vision to the screen. This is more than just an homage; its an authentic, outrageous piece of filmmaking -- the kind that should make papa proud.