Filmmaker and author Melvin Van Peebles has died at the age of 89. The rebel director known for his revolutionary films of “blaxploitation”, died on September 21 surrounded by his family, the Criteria collection announced.
“Daddy knew that black images matter”, his son Mario Van Peebles said in a press release published by Criterion. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, what was a movie worth?” We want to be the success that we see, so we have to see ourselves free. True liberation did not mean imitating the mentality of the colonizer. It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all. “
Melvin was known for producing such productions as the 1971 indie classic “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”, “The Story of a Three-Day Pass”, “Watermelon Man” and “Don’t Play Us Cheap”.
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“Sweet Sweetback” will be performed at the New York Film Festival later this week for its 50th anniversary.
“During an unprecedented career characterized by relentless innovation, boundless curiosity and spiritual empathy, Melvin Van Peebles has left an indelible mark on the international cultural landscape through his films, novels, plays and his music, ”added the Criterion Collection.
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The father / son duo worked together for the 1989 film “Identity Crisis”. Melvin realized while Mario wrote and played the role of a rapper possessed by a dead fashion mogul.
Melvin appeared in his son’s 1993 film “Posse”, as well as in Mario’s drama “Panther,” writing the screenplay adaptation of his own novel.
Mario directed the movie “Baadassss!” in 2003; it served as both a documentary and a tribute to his father’s iconic film.
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Melvin was married to actress Maria Marx in the 1950s. The marriage ended in divorce, but they shared their daughter Megan Van Peebles and son Max Van Peebles.
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He was born in Chicago and attended Ohio Wesleyan University. He graduated in literature and also served in the Air Force in his younger years.