Icon of Black cinema, Melvin Van Peebles, dies at 89

Melvin Van Peebles
Posted at 5:46 PM, Sep 22, 2021

Melvin Van Peebles, an icon of Black cinema, has passed away. He was 89.

His family, The Criterion Collection, and Janus Films confirmed his passing in a statement.

"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,” they said in a statement.

According to the statement, Van Peebles’ film “Sweet Sweetback” is being screened this weekend at the New York Film Festival as part of its 50th anniversary.

And next year, his play “Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death” is slated to return to Broadway.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Van Peebles was considered by many to be the godfather of modern Black cinema.

His movie, "Sweet Sweetback" was influential for filmmakers including Spike Lee and John Singleton because of its distinctive jump cuts and rapid editing.