Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song 1971

Directed by Melvin Van Peebles

USA In English
98 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay, Editor


Bob Maxwell


Melvin Van Peebles
Earth Wind & Fire


Melvin Van Peebles
Simon Chuckster
Hubert Scales
John Dullaghan


Rotterdam 2003


“Arguably the most important black American film of its age, yet it’s remained virtually unseen [totally so in NZ]… In part that’s because it is truly independent, shot on a shoestring and determinedly flouting Hollywood conventions of self censorship. A ‘Yeah Production’, ‘starring The Black Community’, and dedicated to ‘all the Brothers and Sisters who had enough of the Man’, it’s not what you’d call ‘bourgeois art’. The story, such as it is, concerns a stud, Sweetback who’s moved to fight back when two white cops casually beat up a political activist in front of him. He’s on the run for the rest of the movie, with occasional stops for sex and/or further police brutality. Totally uncompromising and grindingly repetitive, the film nevertheless accumulates a kind of hallucinatory groove, with unexpected shafts of bizarre humour and vigorous, experimental new wave direction (psychedelic negative images, split screen and so forth). Written, composed, produced and directed by Van Peebles, it remains one of a kind.” — Tom Charity, Time Out