Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Black Power Mixtape at USC

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Directed by Göran Hugo Olsson
Produced by Annika Rogell

7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

The Ray Stark Family Theatre

George Lucas Building, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Opens in Los Angeles on Friday, September 23rd

About The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

At the end of the 1960’s, numerous Swedish journalists came to the US, drawn by stories of urban unrest and revolution. Filming for close to a decade, they gained the trust of many of the leaders of the black power movement – Stoakely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, and Eldridge Cleaver among them – capturing them in intimate moments and remarkably unguarded interviews. Thirty years later, this lush collection of 16mm film, peppered with footage of Black Panther activities and B-roll images of black America, was found languishing in the basement of Swedish Television. Director Göran Olsson and producer Danny Glover bring this mesmerizing footage to light and, integrating audio interviews with prominent African-American artists and activists who were influenced by the struggle – from Erykah Badu to Harry Belafonte – craft a dynamic chronicle of the birth and life of a movement.
35mm print provided courtesy of Sundance Selects. Not Rated. Running time: 96 minutes.
To learn more about the film and to view the trailer, click here.

Director's Notes

There was a rumor around for years among filmmakers that Sweden had more archive material on the Black Panthers than the entire USA.  A couple of years ago, I was working on a film on Philly Soul and was browsing the archives at the Swedish Television and found out that it was true.  Maybe not exactly, but the stuff on the Black Power movement was amazing and rich.  I immediately knew this was golden.  Absolutely crisp footage with amazing personalities, shown only once a long time ago, in Sweden.  The moment we saw the archive footage that makes up the film, we knew we where going to do The Black Power Mixtape 1967-75, one way or another.  We didn’t sit and wait for approval from anyone; we started doing what we believed in, and found the funds along the way.  I also saw it as my duty to take these fantastic images from the cellar and make them accessible to an audience.

My interest and dedication to this project has its roots in the 1970s when, as a student, my school years were infused with a sense of solidarity with liberation movements.  Many of my classmates were children of Holocaust survivors or expelled Jews from the 1968 pogroms in Poland, others were part of the Allende-Chilean exile community living in Sweden.  We raised monies for the ANC after the Soweto uprising in South Africa, and in 1980-81 all of us were engaged in support work for the Solidarity strikes in Poland.  My own consciousness was deeply affected by these struggles.

The film is a Mixtape, not a remix.  I wanted to keep the feeling of the material, not cut it into pieces.  My respect for not only the personalities in the images, but also for the filmmakers, is total.  The people in the film changed the world for the better.  Not only for black people in America, or any marginalized group, but for all people.  They showed that you couldn’t sit around and wait for someone to give you your rights; you have to take a stand and realize them.  And this goes for every individual, even if you are a white middle-class male living in Sweden.  It´s about self-empowerment as well as empowering others.

I decided to riff on the popular ‘70s ‘mixtape’ format, which I feel will appeal aesthetically and formally to younger generations, and to include audio interviews with key contemporary figures to complement the unusual beauty of 16mm archival, putting the images in context and creating a formal mosaic that is uplifting and moving in impact.

To me the biggest surprise in making THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975 was meeting one of my subjects - Angela Davis.  I had admired her for so many years from seeing her on TV and her biography.  The footage that we assembled in the film is something that no one outside of Swedish television had seen before.  While watching those segments from years ago, I was moved by her interviews and the way she spoke so directly and with knowledge and a subtlety that was so powerful.  Then, when I actually met her, I was blown away completely.  I felt kind of chastened presuming she was this solely this ultra-serious scholar, only to find out she was a humorous, witty and very warm person.  It was great.

Further, this same feeling of surprise resonated with all the other persons I had interviewed for the film.  As a documentary filmmaker, you aren’t quite sure how your subjects and interviewees are going to respond especially on a film that covers many sensitive issues.  But everyone involved with THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975 that we approached for interviews and participation has been so generous and giving including: Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Harry Belafonte, Kathleen Cleaver, Sonia Sanchez, Bobby Seale and Questlove who also provided the film with best imaginable music.

The hardest part of doing The Black Power Mixtape 1967-75 was to leave out wonderful stuff that didn't fit into the storyline.  For example, we had some awesome footage about the Shirley Chisholm campaign in 1972, and I still have sleepless nights for cutting it out.  But we just could not make room for it.

My desire is to create a film that illuminates the remarkable people, society, activism, culture and styles that fuelled a change.

- Göran Hugo Olsson - Filmmaker

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain. The weekly screenings will be on Wednesday and Sunday nights (and other select dates, as they arise) in the School of Cinematic Arts Complex, George Lucas Building.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the general public. Please bring a photo ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $8.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in outdoor Lot M or V, or Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.
Contact Information
Name: Alessandro Ago
Phone: 213.740.2330

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chinese Massacre of 1871: Anti-Chinese Sentiment on Early Los Angeles

The slain bodies of Chinese residents lied in a pile at the police station, awaiting identification by family members.

      In the early hours of the evening of October 24, 1871, two Chinese rivaling gangs, which had been disputing over the ownership of a Chinese woman, opened fired against each other in Calle de los Negros (later renamed Los Angeles Street), the heart of Chinatown at the time. In the vicinity, police officer Jesus heard the shots rang out and calling for assistance, was joined by a man named Robert Thompson. However, in the ensuing crossfire between the gangs, Thompson was hit in the chest, and after being taken to Wollober’s drug store, died soon after. The news of the killing spread throughout town, and rumors emerged that the Chinese “were killing whites wholesale.”  Soon after the incident, a mob of about 500 people consisting of “people of all nationalities”, including prominent citizens and officials.

     Surrounded, some Chinese residents had taken refugee from the threat of violence in an old adobe building. Outside, Marshall Francis Baker, accompanied by officers and members of the mob, gave orders to “shoot any Chinese who try to escape.” At first, a part of the mob attempted to force them out by digging holes through the adobe roof, and then shoot into the into the building. This lead two of the Chinese men hiding to attempt to escape, but they were one of them was shot down from the roof midway, and another was captured and hanged. Finally, around 9 in the evening, a number of people were able to gain entrance into the building and rushed with “hooting and yelling and firing of pistols”, and dragged 8 Chinese men who “in vain pleaded piteously for their lives.” Once the men were brought out, they were quickly beaten and hanged by the angry mob. The first victim of the massacre was identified as Wong Tuck However, who was hanged from a corral gate in the corners of Main and Temple Street. However, the violence didn’t stopped here, and instead it spread throughout Chinatown.

      Present in scene, as the events unfolded, was Judge R. M Widney, who perceiving the intentions of the crowd expressed that he knew that “a general massacre of those innocent, as well as guilty was underway.” Soon the mob had started to roam through the quarters of the Chinese immigrants, while at the same time dragging people out into the streets to be beaten and hanged. 

     One of the victims was a well-known Chinese physician by the name of Gene Tong, who once in the hands of the mob, pleaded for his life in both English and Spanish, but to no avail. Hanging from an awing, Gene Tong’s body was hanged, and had his left finger cut off to take away his ring, and his trousers were pulled down because “it was suspected that he had some money in them which could not be readily available.” The looting of homes and stores was also rampart. Property and valuables were taken away, and the monetary losses amounted from $30,000 to $70,000. 

     In the late evening, the mob had subsided and started to disperse. The result of their violence was the death of 19 Chinese immigrants, while the principal culprits of the shootings that resulted in the death of Robert Thompson had scape to the countryside before the mob set upon Chinatown. The ensuing investigation by the Los Angeles court indicted 150 people involved in the violence. However, only 6 of those indicated were convicted, and none served full sentences

Other sources of information are:

Pfael Jean Pzer. Driven Out: the Forgotten War against Chinese Americcans
Paul De Falla "Lantern in the Western Sky." Historical Society of Southern California 42

LA Weekly: "How Los Angeles Covered Up the Massacre of 17 Chines" 

 Professor of American Studies Jean Pfaelzer speak on her book "Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans":