Blaxploitation figure Melvin Van Peebles and father of actor Mario Van Peebles, died Tuesday night at his Manhattan home.

He was 89 years old.

His family announced his death in a press release distributed by Criterion Collection and by the American trade press.

"Dad knew that black images matter," writes his son Mario Van Peebles in the communication.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a movie worth?

We want the success that we see, therefore we need to see ourselves liberated.

True liberation did not mean emulating the mentality of the colonizer.

It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people ”.

Highest-grossing independent film in history


Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song

, released in 1971, Melvin Van Peebles established himself as one of the pioneers of black American cinema.

This low-budget work follows a man who performs in pornographic shows and kills two racist police officers for beating up a Black Panthers activist.

“I didn't even know I had a heritage,” he told the

New York Times

in 2010. “I do what I want to do”.

Sweet Sweetback

, which he wrote, directed and funded, and stars in, had only been released in two theaters but through word of mouth he ended up making $ 10 million by making the film. highest-grossing independent in history at the time, according to the

Hollywood Reporter


Melvin Van Peebles, pioneer of black American cinema

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