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Filmmaker Isaac Julien uses film clips and interviews to illustrate the history of the so-called "blaxploitation" genre. | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
I should have watched this a long time ago. See more (5 total) »


  (in credits order)

Pam Grier ... Herself

Fred Williamson ... Himself

Melvin Van Peebles ... Himself

Elvis Mitchell ... Himself

Gloria Hendry ... Herself

Quentin Tarantino ... Himself

Samuel L. Jackson ... Himself
Afeni Shakur ... Herself
Ed Guerrero ... Himself
Armond White ... Himself
bell hooks ... Herself

Richard Roundtree ... Himself (archive footage)

Tamara Dobson ... Herself (archive footage)

Ron O'Neal ... Himself (archive footage)

Jim Brown ... Himself (archive footage)
Ron Finley ... Himself
Larry Cohen ... Himself

Jim Kelly ... Himself (archive footage)

Gordon Parks ... Himself (archive footage)
Max Julien ... Himself (archive footage)

Yaphet Kotto ... Himself (archive footage)

Isaac Hayes ... Himself (archive footage)

Curtis Mayfield ... Himself (archive footage)
Roy Innis ... Himself (archive footage)

Jesse Jackson ... Himself (archive footage) (as Rev. Jesse Jackson)

Directed by
Isaac Julien 
Produced by
Alison Palmer Bourke .... executive producer
Paula Jalfon .... producer
Caroline Kaplan .... executive producer
Colin MacCabe .... producer
Jonathan Sehring .... executive producer
Original Music by
Andy Cowton 
Cinematography by
Neal Brown 
Gary Kinkead 
Jonathan Partridge 
Film Editing by
Adam Finch 
Production Management
Heather Keenleyside .... production manager
Sound Department
David Ballard .... sound recordist
Steve Jankowski .... sound recordist
John Quinn .... sound recordist
Ben Young .... sound mixer
Other crew
Ava DuVernay .... publicity consultant
Heather Keenleyside .... researcher
Elvis Mitchell .... consultant
Amy Ongiri .... consultant
Melvin Van Peebles .... source
Mary Lea Bandy .... special thanks
Susan V. Berresford .... special thanks
Susan Cahan .... special thanks
Gertrude Fraser .... special thanks
Henry Louis Gates .... special thanks (as Henry Louis Gates Jr.)
Christine Giraud .... special thanks
Julie Heath .... special thanks
Fred Henry .... special thanks
Rebecca Herrera-Barch .... special thanks
Eileen Harris Norton .... special thanks
Peter Norton .... special thanks
John Phillip Santos .... special thanks
William J. Wilson .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Baadasssss Cinema: A Bold Look at 70's Blaxploitation Films" - USA (alternative title)
See more »
58 min | USA:55 min (TV)
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »

Did You Know?

Movie Connections:
References Perfect Friday (1970)See more »


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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
I should have watched this a long time ago., 11 November 2006
Author: Michael DeZubiria ( from Luoyang, China

It was Quentin Tarantino's famous interest in the old 1970s blaxploitation films, as well as Pam Grier, that first got me interested in the genre, but not knowing what the genre was really about, or at least not knowing the history behind it's formation, its themes, even its actors, made me not enjoy the first handful of the films that I watched, like Coffy, Foxy Brown, Black Mama, White Mama, and Sheba, Baby. Granted, I don't think any amount of documentaries could make me enjoy Sweet Sweetback's Badaaasss Song, but I suppose I can certainly understand the society in which it was made.

What I loved about this documentary is the way it gives a look not only at the blaxploitation films of the 19670s, but also gives the historical context under which they were made, including their level of popularity in places like Los Angeles, where I live, and Hollywood's response. There are a number of debatable claims made in the documentary, such as blaxloitation saving Hollywood or Hollywood killing the blaxploitation genre, but what I really appreciated were the interviews from some of the original actors as well as brief looks at several of the more prominent blaxploitatoin films, some of which I enjoyed, like Black Caesar, and some of which remain not really my favorites, like Sweet Sweetback and Super Fly.

The cast give very revealing interviews, both about their experience in being involved in the blaxpoitation genre, as well as giving their insights into the meaning and fate of the genre. I was glad to see that Quentin Tarantino appears to talk about blaxploitation's influence on him and his films because he is obviously so heavily inspired by them, but there were some other heavyweights that are far too conspicuously absent, most notably the tremendously successful Spike Lee. Odd, since this documentary was released in 2002, far too early for them to have already been mad at Spike for She Hate Me.

Gloria Hendry tells the story about getting her first role in Black Caesar and becoming instantly famous, and others talk about their involvement and experience with the genre, such as Samuel L. Jackson and even Ameni Shakur, Tupac's mother, who was a member of the Black Panther party. Pam Grier gives a brilliant interview, revealing a depth of character and a studied intelligence that far surpasses anything that she has ever been able to reveal in any of her films. She speaks so intelligently that this interview alone almost makes it look like she has been accepting roles far beneath her ability for the majority of her career. And she's good, too, I'd like to see a lot more of her in the future. I really think she has adapted well to the changes that have taken place in her life and in the film industry since the end of blaxploitation.

Fred Williamson, one of the most famous actors from the genre, gives a rather sour, disillusioned interview, focusing on pretty negative subjects and ideas. The one that stuck out to me the most was that he said something like no one ever wanted black film, their was never any real desire or need for it, people just wanted to see black people on film. Something like that, at any rate, he claimed that no one ever really wanted blaxploitation, it happened for other, more superficial reasons, which I don't agree with at all. The people that packed those theaters sure wanted it.

Blaxploitation is something of an offbeat subgenre in cultural film history, but I think that it is one that needs some explanation before a lot of people will really enjoy, and some people won't enjoy it even then. Sort of like how some supplemental documentaries included with DVDs will make you enjoy certain movies more than you otherwise would have, this documentary is an excellent way to get a basic introduction to the genre, and make sure to have a pen and paper handy when you watch it, because you'll want to write down some of the movies that it talks about so you can remember to watch them!

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