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Melvin Van Peebles, an icon of Black cinema, has died

Melvin Van Peebles
Posted at 3:46 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 18:02:22-04

Melvin Van Peebles, an icon of Black cinema, has passed away. He was 89.

His family, The Criterion Collection, and Janus Films confirmed his passing in a statement.

"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,” they said in a statement.

According to the statement, Van Peebles’ film “Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song” is being screened this weekend at the New York Film Festival as part of its 50th anniversary.

And next year, his play “Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death” is slated to return to Broadway.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Van Peebles was considered by many to be the godfather of modern Black cinema.

His movie "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" was influential for filmmakers including Spike Lee and John Singleton because of its distinctive jump cuts and rapid editing.

His son Mario Van Peebes is also an actor, who has starred in films including "New Jack City" and "Ali."