Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975, The
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Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975, The

Göran Hugo Olsson (Sweden, World Showcase)

Friday, April 29, 6:30 p.m.
Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)
Monday, May 2, 1 p.m.
Cumberland 2 (159 Cumberland Street)
Saturday, May 7, 9 p.m.
Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)

There is always a question of ethics in documentaries, which use actual people and events to tell a story. The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975 is hyper-conscious of this fact, and because of this awareness it is an excellent exploration of not only a pivotal time in American history but also of the nature of documentary filmmaking itself.
Comprised largely of 16mm footage shot by a Swedish news crew visiting the United States in the late sixties and early seventies, The Black Power Mixtape doesn’t position itself as a comprehensive history of a complex and explosive time. Rather, as the opening “disclosure” from the filmmakers’ notes, it’s how one crew at a certain time saw a segment of America. Historically, much of the footage is fascinating in its own right, never having seen the light of day before: Stokely Carmichael interviewing his mother, a young Angela Davis interviewed in prison, footage shot inside the Black Panthers headquarters. But what takes this documentary beyond being a historical curiosity is the commentary by contemporary black intellectuals and artists. The voices of Talib Kweli, Questlove, Henry Belafonte, and Erykah Badu (to name a few) aren’t used to create meaning as standard narration might. Instead of acting as an omniscient authoritative commentators, their voiceovers are more reflections on what watching the footage now, 30 years later, means to them as artists, Americans, and members of the black community.
The Black Power Mixtape is powerful documentary, exemplifying how film as a medium can simultaneously reflect on the past while shaping the present.