The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Rated 4.0

Director Göran Hugo Olsson’s vigorous documentary begins with the peculiar disclaimer that it “does not presume to tell the whole story of the Black Power Movement, but to show how it was perceived by some Swedish filmmakers.” OK, then. Having rooted around in Swedish TV archives for a “mixtape” of clips from the era, Olsson presented his findings to contemporary African-American cultural figures and recorded their responses, à la DVD commentary. The archival footage is often extraordinary: Here’s Stokely Carmichael in his mother’s living room, there’s Angela Davis in jail, both looking weary and defiant with their wits still shining brightly. The commentary has its “whoa” moments, too. “In this period,” says Erykah Badu, “the pain to remain the same outweighed the pain to change.” That puts it well, given the complex epochal crucible on display, and it goes to show that neither historical nor geographical distance can cool a hot topic.