Black Power and Pariah at Sundance.

Dee Rees‘s Pariah and Goran Olsson‘s The Black Power Mixtape deal with the Black experience in America,  but very differently — after all, we are not a monolith.

The first, is about a young black lesbian coming to terms with her sexuality in the heart of Brooklyn. Movie treatment of queer issues are usually reserved for white men, so it’s refreshing to see it broadened to encompass women of color. By staying away from stereotypical tricks usually turned by Hollywood’s and cliches associated with coming-of-age films the film has garnered positive reviews — especially for the camera work and powerful acting.

Hit up the Pariah website to demand it at a theater near you.

Olsson’s “Mixtape” draws primarily from rare archival footage shot by two Swedish journalists between 1967 and 1975, at the apex of the Black Power movement. Olsson’s 96-minute compilation remixes the original Swedish reels (which features movement heavyweights, like Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Stokely Carmichael, and Eldridge Cleaver) with fresh perspectives from hip-hop conscious heavyweights like Erykah Badu, Questlove and Talib Kweli — attempting to give new import to our not-too-far-gone history.

From The Documentary Blog:

Luckily it avoids being a fumbling European view of US culture, but the journalists’ intrigue and naivete makes the footage far more accessible, and also unique, as they explore different aspects and speakers more likely to be overlooked by the US media at the time{…}you get a sense of the enigmatic nature of the Movement’s leaders through their speeches, but also of them as people through footage filmed during their downtime. There is a particularly wonderful interview with Stokely Carmichael’s mother as Stokely takes over the role of interviewer as the Swedish journalists struggle.  The range of footage with Angela Davis was by far the highlight of the film for me from her court case footage, to the only interview in her cell, you get an all encompassing view of an important figure in the movement often left out of similar films.

The subtlety of the film is its real strength and the enormous amount of footage from a multitude of approaches and view points makes Black Power Mixtape a joy to watch, while also being a very important cultural document. Add Questlove’s beautiful soundtrack into the mix and this a film that will have an extremely long life with an audience who will find a wonderful cinematic experience.


Naima "Nai" Ramos-Chapman is the Associate Editor at Campus Progress, a dancer with Taurus Broadhurst Dance in D.C., and an aspiring visual artist (she doodles). Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Naimaramchap.
  • I’ve been hearing good things about Pariah for years now. I’m really amped to see it.

  • tabitha

    wait- has Pariah been turned into a feature length film? i am SO HAPPY to hear that. i attended a screening for the short a few years ago and everyone in the room was blown away. never had i seen a film touching on young black female sexuality in such a way. it was easily the best short on the roster. i recall the director and producer getting a ton of buzz and talk about making it a feature but i hadn’t heard about it since then. i hope it gets purchased. i’d love to see what she’s done with it.