A Giant of Black Cinema, Melvin Van Peebles Dies At 89

22September 2021

Melvin Van Peebles at a 2018 film festival in Hollywood.

Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TCM

Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TCM

Influential director Melvin Van Peebles has died. He was best known for his independent films Watermelon Man (1970) and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971). He was also the father of Mario Van Peebles, who directed New Jack City a generation later.

The Criterion Collection announced the news in a statement that read in part, “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.”

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