Sweet Sweetback Baadassss' Song(1971)
Made for $50,000 and grossing $10 million, Sweetback was financed, produced, written, directed, scored and starred by Melvin Van Peebles and one of the very few Black movies of the '70s to emerge from a completely black artistic sensibility. Obscene, frenzied, painful, the movie sees the titular hero go on the run after stomping a couple of cops unconscious, throwing up a series of violent set-pieces that comment on both Black stereotypes and blaxploitation staples. Showing a whole generation of black filmmakers the way forward, the guerrilla filmmaking and canny marketing campaign also provide pointers for every no-budget filmmaker following in its wake.
As uncompromising and maverick-minded as its director, Bad Lieutenant is certainly the most notorious, searingly emotional and profound of Abel Ferrara's back catalogue of scuzz and sleaze. Starring indie darling Harvey Keitel - in a mesmerising and extraordinarily brave performance - as a seriously corrupt, guilt-ridden, devoutly Catholic cop, this is a breathtaking modern-day parable of sin and redemption that is so hardcore, so unflinching in its portrayal of a man's descent into Hell and his scrabbling attempts to get into Heaven that it simply had to be an independent movie. And we haven't even mentioned the scene where Keitel quite literally pulls over two girls on the freeway...