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In 1971, Melvin Van Peebles, an independent filmmaker far ahead of his time, released a mind-blowing piece of avant-garde cinema - Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. It broke all the rules, inventing its own grammar and proclaiming its emancipation from cinematic conventions. It turned the Hollywood studio system on its head, creatively sidestepping prevailing constraints and scrounging up alternative financing. Most importantly, Van Peebles splashed Black Power across the big screen in a way people had never seen before, depicting a heroic character who both defies "the man" and illustrates the oppression of Blacks, from slavery to the Watts riots.—Flying Free Films
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