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Melvin Van Peebles dead: Pioneer filmmaker of the Blaxploitation genre dies aged 89

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Melvin Van Peebles dead: Pioneer filmmaker of the Blaxploitation genre dies aged 89

Melvin Van Peebles has died at the age of 89.

The influential filmmaker was the man behind the '70s blaxploitation film Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song.

He was the father of director and actor Mario Van Peebles.

Mario paid a poignant tribute to his dad in a statement from the Criterion Collection. "Dad knew that Black images matter," he said.

"If a picture is worth a thousand words, what was a movie worth? We want to be the success we see, thus we need to see ourselves being free.

"True liberation did not mean imitating the colonizer's mentality. It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people."

Melvin's film Sweet Sweetback is set to be shown at this week's New York Film Festival to mark 50 years since it was created.

Melvin Van Peebles

© WireImage Melvin Van Peebles

The Criterion Collection said: "In an unparalleled career distinguished by relentless innovation, boundless curiosity and spiritual empathy, Melvin Van Peebles made an indelible mark on the international cultural landscape through his films, novels, plays and music."

Melvin was considered by many to be the godfather of modern Black cinema and directed other films such as Watermelon Man in 1970, which was a racial satire starring Godfrey Cambridge as a bigoted white insurance salesman who goes to the bathroom in his suburban home one night and discovers he’s Black.

At the time of its release, there were very few African-American directors in Hollywood.

He also directed movies such as Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, Don't Play Us Cheap! and Identity Crisis.

Melvin starred alongside his son Mario in the 1993 film titled Posse.

As well as directing, Melvin appeared in many movies, including Jaws: The Revenge, Reginald Hudlin's Boomerang, Last Action Hero and The Hebrew Hammer. 

Reference: Mirror: Jamie Roberts

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