When Melvin Van Peebles’ ground-breaking, earth-shattering, seismic-shifting “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” was released in 1971, the actor/director had already led several other remarkable lives–Air Force pilot, Tony-nominated Broadway playwright, novelist (writing in French), artist, TV news commentator and more.
His attack on the bigotry of white America, dedicated in the opening credits to “all the Brothers and Sisters who had enough of the Man,” “Sweetback” grossed more than $15 million in the United States. The famous quote describes Van Peebles’ achievement, “He didn’t open doors; he blew them off the hinges.”
On August 21 at 7:30 pm, Film Forum is throwing the legend a Birthday Baassssh on his actual 80th, inviting friends he knows and those he doesn’t. Joe Angio, the director of the 2005 documentary on Melvin, “How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It)” will interview him. The evening, produced by Bruce Goldstein, will also include film clips and “guaranteed surprises.”