The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Review by Jason Goodyer

Directed by

Göran Hugo Olsson

Starring

Angela Davis Bobby Seale Stokely Carmichael

Anticipation.

There’s always an air of possibility and excitement surrounding found footage.

Enjoyment.

Reaches its peak with fascinating glimpses of fringe figures as well as the headline names.

In Retrospect.

Like the era it represents, there are highs and lows.

Like the era it represents, there are highs and lows in director Göran Hugo Olsson’s latest documentary.

Living up to its title, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 offers a snapshot, top 10 rundown of key events in the rise of the titular movement in the late sixties and early 1970s, made up of occasional uninspired choices that most will want to fast forward through and parts so moving they demand to be played over and over again.

The film is a meandering documentary collage pieced together from Swedish TV footage found languishing in archives, 30 years after it was shot, by director Göran Olsson. Throughout the hour and a half we get face-to-face with key figures such as civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael, scholar Angela Davis, Black Panther leading member Eldridge Cleaver and the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakham. It’s a whistle-stop tour of a distinctly American struggle as seen through the prism of the Swedish newsmen’s outsiders’ view, from the inside.

The primary concession to the passage of time comes in the form of voiceover analysis and opinion by modern figures in black music and academia such as Talib Kweli, Ahmir Thompson, Robin Kelley and Sonia Sanchez, with some commentators, almost inevitably perhaps, providing more insight than others.

Amongst all this is some footage truly worthy of preservation thanks to its documentation of social history in action, or at least in its reflection of this time of seismic social change as it was occurring. We see a defiant Cleaver in Algiers, Carmichael edgily interviewing his mother about her immigrant past in their family home, and a tense interview with a weakened but still terrifyingly lucid Davis during her controversial imprisonment.

But the most affecting segments are the snatches of film featuring those not in the eye of the storm but the desperate figures caught up struggling somewhere in its messy outer reaches. The most poignant being the candid interviews with the owner of a black book store in Harlem who’s dedicated to the education of the ethnic underclasses, and a heartbreaking one-to-one with a teenage former heroin addict turned prostitute desperate to turn things around.

It is, after all, these ground level voices that genuinely reflect the hope and despair that so fully permeated the era.

Published 21 Oct 2011

Tags: Angela Davis Black Lives Matter Göran Hugo Olsson

Anticipation.

There’s always an air of possibility and excitement surrounding found footage.

Enjoyment.

Reaches its peak with fascinating glimpses of fringe figures as well as the headline names.

In Retrospect.

Like the era it represents, there are highs and lows.

Read More

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

By David Jenkins

Stanley Nelson offers a broad survey of the militant political party.

review

A New Hope – Black empowerment and symbolic casting in contemporary blockbusters

By Caspar Salmon

Our Obama Era Cinema series continues with Caspar Salmon reflecting on the vitriolic online backlash to recent progress in Hollywood casting.

Concerning Violence

By Sophie Monks Kaufman

A timely and powerful exploration into the history of uprising in Africa as seen through the eyes of white liberals.

review LWLies Recommends

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design