He is praised as the Godfather of Modern Black Cinema.
Melvin Van Peebles, the compelling producer behind “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song,” and father of director and actor Mario Van Peebles, has died on Tuesday night at his home in Manhattan, surrounded by his family.
“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,” the statement read.
“His work continues to be essential and is being celebrated at the New York Film Festival this weekend with a 50th anniversary screening of his landmark film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song; a Criterion Collection box set, Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films next week; and a revival of his play Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, slated for a return to Broadway next year.”
Son Mario Van Peebles, who emulated his dad’s footsteps in coordinating movies and directing films lauded his dad’s vision. “Dad knew that Black images matter,” he began.
“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 colonizer’s mentality. It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people.”
Aside from being a filmmaker, Van Peebles was a novelist, playwright, songwriter, musician, and painter. According to IMDB, his last acting role was the film short “Pile On!” which is in post-production.
Reactions to Icon Of Black Cinema Van Peebles Dies At 89
Rest in Peace, to an icon — Melvin Van Peebles. pic.twitter.com/xEIBniws9n— FRANCE. (@_mothers__) September 22, 2021
Never forget when Melvin Van Peebles and his son, Mario Van Peebles, guest starred on an episode of Living Single. That was such a great episode. pic.twitter.com/n58kbrxanu— 𝚋𝚛𝚘𝚘𝚔𝚕𝚢𝚗’𝚜 𝚊𝚖𝚋𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚊𝚍𝚘𝚛. (@travisfromdabk_) September 22, 2021
R.I.P. Melvin Van Peebles, who claimed to have successfully applied to the Director's Guild for compensation for a workplace injury after contracting gonorrhea during an unsimulated sex scene. A legend who deserved his own Cry Macho.— Will Sloan (@WillSloanEsq) September 22, 2021
RIP to the legendary director, playwright,actor, and composer Melvin Van Peebles🙏🕊 pic.twitter.com/SpmphIOuY5— madlib fan acct (@TheRealAntonioA) September 22, 2021
definition of a Maverick. RIP to the GREAT Melvin Van Peebles. #MelvinVanPeebles pic.twitter.com/8zeTFTIl6s— bill teck (@billteck) September 22, 2021
Melvin Van Peebles wasn't just a breakthrough Black filmmaker, he was a landmark American independent filmmaker. He lived and breathed his art and he blew doors off hinges so other people could do the same. L E G E N D.— DrewMcWeeny (@DrewMcWeeny) September 22, 2021
LEGEND! R.I.P. #MelvinVanPeebles pic.twitter.com/M0JU1bTHiD— WHIZ WARD (@yopotnawhiz) September 22, 2021
A very underrated director and actor RIP Melvin Van Peebles pic.twitter.com/CgxGD3sJQ5— Jay Johnson (@Michael96303310) September 23, 2021
Peace to Melvin Van Peebles 🤲🏾👼🏾 pic.twitter.com/W5RqQWOrRx— i lyrically sparred with the best in the world ⚔️ (@MUSICANDBUILDS) September 23, 2021