Sweden/USA, 2011, 96 min
Swedish filmmaker Göran Hugo Olsson’s fascinating documentary, coproduced by longtime activist and acclaimed actor Danny Glover, juxtaposes recently discovered Swedish archival material chronicling the Black Power movement in the United States from 1967 to 1975 with new commentary by prominent African American voices in cultural and political spheres. Set to an evocative soundtrack with original music by Questlove (DJ and drummer of the hip-hop group the Roots) and Om’Mas Keith, the outcome is a dynamic audiovisual collage about being Black in America in the ’60s and ’70s, through the curious and at times naive eyes of Swedish journalists. Unique coverage of iconic African American activists such as Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seale is contextualized with reference to the struggles of the Black community in places like South Florida and Harlem. Special attention is given to the Black Panther Party’s activities in Oakland as well as the views of other radical Americans, criticizing the government and the situation for African Americans at the time. Mixtape is a striking reminder that many of the problems discussed here endure in today’s society. This is emphasized by the insightful commentary from activists and artists such as Kathleen Cleaver, Sonia Sanchez, Abiodun Oyewole, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli and Harry Belafonte. Apart from taking a refreshingly honest look at the Black Power movement’s evolution, this montage of rare cinematic gems offers universally relevant observations about racial stratification and political empowerment.
In English and Swedish with subtitles. Special support for this program generously provided by Dale Djerassi.