Isaac Julien’s documentary examines the short-lived, but deeply influential, flourishing of commercial Black independent filmmaking in the early 1970s which became known as “blaxploitation”.
Filled with fragments and contributions from luminaries of the time, including actors Pam Grier and Fred Williamson, directors Melvin Van Peebles and Gordon Parks Jr., contemporary fans Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson, and critics like bell hooks, the documentary sets the films of the period in their context and asks a series of questions. Did Seventies hits such as Sweet Sweetback’s BaadAssss Song and Shaft provide “revolutionary” or retrograde images of American blacks? Why was it that “blaxploitation” films, having helped save a declining Hollywood, then became marginalised? Julien follows the genre from the very start up till Tarantino’s homage Jackie Brown. –IsaacJulien.com
Isaac Julien (born 1960, London, England) is an installation artist and filmmaker.
Julien graduated from St Martin’s School of Art in 1985, where he studied painting and fine art film. He founded Sankofa Film and Video Collective, and was a founder member of Normal Films in 1999.
Julien came to prominence in the film world with his 1989 drama-documentary Looking for Langston, gaining a cult following with this poetic exploration of Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance. This following was expanded in 1991 when his film Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize for best film at the Cannes Film Festival.
One of the objectives of Julien’s work is to break down the barriers that exist between different artistic disciplines, drawing from and commenting on film, dance, photography, music, theatre, painting and sculpture, and uniting these to construct a powerfully visual narrative. Thematically, much of his work directly relates to experiences… read more