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(Credit: John Mathew Smith)


Tributes paid to Melvin Van Peebles who has died aged 89


Tributes from across the world of Hollywood have flooded in for the iconic filmmaker behind  Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Melvin Van Peebles, who has passed away at the age of 89. 

Known as the ‘Godfather of Black cinema’, Melvin Van Peebles was responsible for bringing groundbreaking independent black cinema to the forefront of the industry. Releasing a statement the Directors Guild of America (DGA) reported, “We lost a true legend today in so many senses of the word”.

Continuing, the statement read, “Melvin Van Peebles was a cinematic icon whose bold and unapologetic work exploded on the scene, capturing the attention of our culture, inspiring the hearts and minds of so many, and influencing the work of countless filmmakers”. 

Such a heartfelt tribute was joined by multiple filmmakers from across the world, including Spike Lee, who wrote on Instagram, “I am so saddened by the loss of my brother Melvin Van Pebbles who brought independent black cinema to the forefront with his groundbreaking film Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song (He Personally Signed This Poster To Me),”. Concluding, the director noted, “Melvin was a big supporter of my film career. He even showed up to the set of Do The Right Thing. Damn we have lost another giant!”. 

“We’ve lost another lion, the true revolutionary, an artistic gangsta, cultural disrupter who forever changed the game Rest n Peace Melvin Van Peebles,” the Tony-nominated David Alan Grier added. Meanwhile, Barry Jenkins, the director of Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk tweeted that the filmmaker “made the most of every second, of EVERY single damn frame.

“Admittedly,” he added, “While the last time I spent any time with him was MANY years ago, it was a night in which he absolutely danced his face off. The man just absolutely LIVED.”

Jenkins’ comments were joined by Selma director Ava DuVernay who used a favourite quote from Van Peebles, “You have to not let yourself believe you can’t. Do what you can do within the framework you have. And don’t look outside. Look inside”. 

Melvin Van Peebles is survived by his wife Maria Marx and children, Mario Van Peebles, Megan Van Peebles and Max Van Peebles.