Black Film Archive is a living register of Black films. In its current iteration, it showcases Black films made from 1915 to 1979 currently streaming. 


Black Film Archive celebrates the rich, abundant history of Black cinema. We are an evolving archive dedicated to making historically and culturally significant films made from 1915 to 1979 about Black people accessible through a streaming guide with cultural context.  

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Melvin Van Peebles in his own words

Maya S. Cade | October 9, 2021

We have all felt the dizzying effects of the world being generally skewed, but it is my firmest belief the world tilted slightly off its axis when Melvin Van Peebles passed at the age of 89 on September 21, 2021. For weeks, I've been trying to conjure up words to say for a man who lived and breathed art as a playwright, novelist, writer, actor, producer, journalist, musician, composer, painter, uncompromising Black visionary, and director.

Sometimes it feels as if life is flattened when we rush to describe the magnitude of its weight.

Sitting with what I know and have discovered about Van Peebles' life combing through countless interviews. With that in mind, I have created Black Film Archive's first director page in honor of Van Peebles: an evolving place that currently houses a short bio, accessible Melvin Van Peebles interviews of note, newspaper clippings across time, and links to his films in the Archive.

By harnessing the full power of Black imagery across mediums, Van Peebles created a mirror in which Black people could see themselves in a new light. He also shined the mirror he made upon himself; here is Van Peebles in his own gaze:

On the importance of Black imagery:

“Being alive gave me the reason [to create the Blaxploitation genre]. My original reason for going into film was that I had gotten tired of seeing Blacks portrayed in an image I didn’t agree with and I said I can do better than that…. if you don’t control your images, you don’t have a base for controlling your destiny. I wanted to control how I was perceived, therefore I went into films.” - NPR’s Fresh Air interview, 1990.

“You see the establishment has a set of images the Black man and he wants the guy to conform to it. If the Black man don’t, he doesn’t like it. And here I was not willing to conform to their image of a Black.” — The Guardian, 1970.  

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EST. AUG 2021
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