Independent Lens: The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975
Airs Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV
Friday, February 10, 2012
Combining startlingly fresh and candid 16mm footage that had lain undiscovered in the cellar of Swedish Television for the past 30 years, with contemporary audio interviews from leading African-American artists, activists, musicians and scholars, ”The Black Power Mixtape” looks at the people, society, culture and style that fueled an era of convulsive change, 1967-1975.
Music is the Message
The soundtrack to America’s civil rights movement before the mid-1960s was predominantly made up of gospel standards and spirituals, with a smattering of popular folk. But by the late 1960s, music was changing right along with the political landscape. Check out our virtual mixtape of soul, funk, and jazz tunes and audio clips from that period.
Utilizing an innovative format that riffs on the popular 1970s mixtape format, this is a cinematic and musical journey into the black communities of America.
At the end of the '60s and into the early '70s, Swedish interest in the U.S. civil rights movement and the U.S. anti-war movement peaked. With a combination of commitment and naiveté, Swedish filmmakers traveled across the Atlantic to explore the Black Power movement, which was being alternately ignored or portrayed in the U.S. media as a violent, nascent terrorist movement.
Despite the obstacles they encountered, both from the conservative white American power establishment and from radicalized movement members themselves, the Swedish filmmakers stayed committed to their investigation, and ultimately formed bonds with key figures in the movement.
This newly discovered footage offers a penetrating examination — through the lens of Swedish filmmakers — of the Black Power movement from 1967 to 1975, and its worldwide resonance. The result is like an anthropological treatise on an exotic civilization from the point of view of outsiders who approached their subject with no assumptions or biases.