THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975 (Göran Hugo Olsson, 2011)
IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. at Third St., 212-924-7771
Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, 1886 Broadway at 63rd St., 212-757-2280
Opens Friday, September 9
From 1967 to 1975, a group of more than two dozen Swedish journalists came to America to document the civil rights movement. More than thirty years later, director and cinematographer Göran Hugo Olsson discovered hours and hours of unused 16mm footage — the material was turned into a program shown only once in Sweden and seen nowhere else — and developed it into The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, a remarkable visual and aural collage that focuses on the Black Panthers and the Black Power movement, a critical part of American history that has been swept under the rug. Olsson and Hanna Lejonqvist have seamlessly edited together startlingly intimate footage of such seminal figures as Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Stokely Carmichael, including a wonderfully personal scene in which Carmichael interviews his mother on her couch. But the star of the film is the controversial political activist Angela Davis, who allowed the journalists remarkable access, particularly in a jailhouse interview shot in color. (Most of the footage is in black and white.) Davis also adds contemporary audio commentary, sharing poignant insight about that tumultuous period, along with Abiodun Oyewole of the Last Poets, singer Erykah Badu, professor, poet, and playwright Sonia Sanchez, Roots drummer Ahmir Questlove Thompson (who also composed the film’s score with Om’Mas Keith), and rapper Talib Kweli, who discusses specific scenes in the film with a thoughtful grace and intelligence. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is an extraordinary look back at a crucial moment in time that has long been misunderstood, if not completely forgotten. The filmmakers will be at the IFC Center for the 8:15 and 10:20 shows on Friday and Saturday night to talk about the work. In conjunction with the film’s opening, Third Streaming at 10 Greene St. is hosting an art exhibition through October 15 featuring film stills and additional footage from The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. And for more on the Black Power movement, the Maysles Institute in Harlem will be holding the third annual Black Panther Party Film Festival from September 30 through October 8; this year’s theme is “Remembering Our Political Prisoners,” celebrating the forty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the party.