In the mid-'60s a group of Swedish journalists traveled to the US to investigate the state of American society. As this collage of interviews, clips and archive footage shows, they were there to witness the birth of black militancy.
This fly-on-the-wall history of American civil unrest and the Black Panthers begins with a caveat: “This does not presume to tell the whole story.” If the purpose of documentaries is to collate first-hand experiences in a “mixtape” fashion, Göran Hugo Olsson succeeds using archived Swedish footage: interviews with movement figureheads Angela Davis and Stokely Carmichael; shots of young Panthers in training; anecdotes from Harlem dwellers battling a vicious cycle of depravity and addiction. Pieced together with new commentary from hip hop community leaders (Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, Questlove), there’s astounding work here by those once able to gain access to a dangerous world. Yet, caveats aside, the results would have been better served with greater guidance for those of limited knowledge.
While it assumes a fair bit of knowledge of the social changes exploding in sixties America, there's a wealth of fascinating material and punchy insights into an earth shaking movement.
Reviewed by Liz Beardsworth