Thursday, September 17, 2015

Melvin Van Peebles at the Black Riot Cycle

Five years ago, Melvin Van Peebles created a musical version of his iconic, independent, 1971 film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. He called it an opera.

He wrote, composed, and directed it, and he selected Greg Tate and the Burnt Sugar Arkestra to perform the music. Called Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song – A Hood Opera, it premiered at the Sons d'Hiver Festival at the Maison des Arts de Creteil in the Paris suburb of Creteil in 2010.

Two years later, Sweet Sweetback returned to the Sons d'Hiver Festival in Creteil, this time in documentary form. Called L'opéra rêvé de Melvin Van Peebles, producer Samuel Thiebaut’s film features a behind-the-scenes look at the staging of the opera.

On September 10, 2015, the documentary was screened once again – this time at the MK2 Quai de Seine cinema in Paris. It was showcased as part of the Black Riot cycle of the Jazz à La Villette festival – the screening of several “essential” full-length films such as Black Panthers (1968) by Agnès Varda and Free Angela (2013) by Shola Lynch. The festival’s organizers selected this theme to “echo” the demonstrations that have erupted in the U.S. in reaction to police violence.

MK2 Quai de Seine cinema
© Discover Paris!

Black Riot Cycle at Jazz à la Villette 2015
© Discover Paris!

To open the evening, Van Peebles took the stage to be interviewed and answer questions from the audience.

Melvin Van Peebles being interviewed
© Discover Paris!

Among the topics discussed was the inextricable link between his film career and his experiences in France. During the 1960s, he pub­lished four nov­els and a collection of short stories in French. La Permission, a novel published in 1967, became the basis of his first fea­ture, a black and white French film given the same name. Called The Story of A Three Day Pass in English, this film won the Critic’s Choice Award at the 1967 San Fran­cisco Film Fes­ti­val. In 2001, Van Peebles was named a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor.

Click on the image below to view a teaser for the documentary by Samuel Thiebaut.

Cool, no problem.
Screenshot from L'opéra rêvé de Melvin Van Peebles

After the screening, Van Peebles graciously posed with members of the audience.

Monique and Melvin Van Peebles
© Discover Paris!

He was definitely MVP for the evening...

Melvin Van Peebles with MVP on jacket
© Discover Paris!

Most Valuable Peebles!


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