Black Again! Fifty Years of Blaxploitation: a reflection
The genre of film, commonly known as Blaxploitation, celebrates its 50th year. A collection of films, which shifted the representation of African Americans and as a result, the representation of Black people, in cinema. Gone were the depictions of the ‘good negro’ and along came actors, no longer playing stereotypical bit-parts, that drove the narratives they starred in.
We were so happy to form a partnership to mark this important moment in cinema history, and joined the Hyde Park Picture House as part of their Black Again! Fifty Years of Blaxploitation.
Curated by Mosa Mpetha, Creative Engagement Officer, the Leeds venue set the scene for a series of screenings during the UK’s Black History Month, which included gems such as Blacula, Hell Up In Harlem and Black Caesar. Women Of The Lens Film Festival joined the platform on Women’s Day, Saturday 7th October, where we hosted the screening of Coffy-starring Pam Grier and Cleopatra Jones-starring Tamara Dobson.
We were joined on the day by none other than Joshia Howard who wrote the definitive book, Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide. Also with us as a key fashion element was Ebony Milestone.
The genre was a catalyst for the evolution of so many disciplines – music and fashion being some of them. Blaxploitation also paved the way for the following wave of filmmakers in the likes of Spike Lee, John Singleton, Robert Townsend, Kathleen Collins, Euzhan Palcy and others.
We didn’t stop there! We were very pleased to be supportive of the work of Beyond Cancer, a Leeds-based charity which started in 2010. Beyond Cancer’s objectives are about the promotion of good health through the provision of support to people from ethnic minority groups who have a cancer diagnosis. We were able to donate 20% of the Women’s Day proceeds to Beyond Cancer.
All-in-all, it was a fantastic day of celebration, reflection and of course sadness as we later on in October learned that the iconic actor, Richard Roundtree had died.
Whilst not the first film to launch the genre, Roundtree’s starring in the Gordon Parks directed Shaft, became a hero of the landmark film of Blaxploitation.
Enjoy our photos below.