Melvin Van Peebles dead: Filmmaker hailed as 'godfather of black cinema' dies at 89

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Melvin Van Peebles dead: Filmmaker hailed as 'godfather of black cinema' dies at 89

Melvin Van Peebles has died at the age of 89, his son confirmed in a statement. The pioneering filmmaker and and actor died at home in Manhattan on

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Melvin Van Peebles has died at the age of 89, his son confirmed in a statement. The pioneering filmmaker and and actor died at home in Manhattan on Tuesday. Tributes have poured in with the Netflix Strong Black Lead account calling the filmmaker the “Godfather of Black cinema” in their tribute.

Melvin was the filmmaker behind Watermelon Man and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, as well as starring in films like Jaws: The Revenge.

His death was announced in a joint statement from his family, The Criterion Collection and Janus Films.

This read: “We are saddened to announce the passing of a giant of American cinema, Melvin Van Peebles, who died last night, at home with family, at the age of 89.

“In an unparalleled career, Van Peebles made an indelible mark on the international cultural landscape. He will be deeply missed.”

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Speaking about his father’s death, his son Mario paid tribute to his work: “Dad knew that Black images matter.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, what was a movie worth?

“We want to be the success we see, thus we need to see ourselves being free. True liberation did not mean imitating the coloniser’s mentality.

“It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people.”

Chicago-born Melvin started his career in the Air Force before making the switch to filmmaking in the 1960s.

His first Hollywood film was Watermelon Man, which follows a casually racist white man who wakes up as a black man.

The 1971 film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was another of his widely acclaimed works, which he wrote, directed and starred in.

Alongside his pioneering filmmaking, Melvin was also an actor having had roles in Jaws: The Revenge, Terminal Velocity and Redemption Road.

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