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D/B Recommended: Blaxploitation! @ Arsenal Berlin | 20.07. – 24.08. 2012

Hot town, summer in the city: even if the weather can’t necessarily be relied on for summer heat, the huge Blaxploitation program of the Arsenal cinema is bound to do the trick!

Running from July 20 until August 24, it covers 12 important blaxploitation films of the years 1970-1974.

Before the backdrop of the African American liberation movement and the crisis in the Hollywood studios, a new genre emerged in US cinema in 1970.

Cotton Comes to Harlem | Trailer

The Blaxploitation films of the first half of the 70s gifted Afro-American cinema its first (and thus far only) great boom. With the exception of Sidney Poitier and several musicals with all black casts, black people in Hollywood had only been in line for the role of the butler, the gardener and the shoeshine boy until well into the 60s.

In the face of a new Afro-American confidence and the fact that the Hollywood studios were in desperate need of new markets, by 1970 the time had come to correct the image of the Afro-American on the movie screen. Within 18 months, four enormously successful films by Afro-American directors had founded a new genre of black protagonists whose every larger-than-life line of dialogue and action announced that “Black is beautiful.”

Across 110th Street | Trailer

The plot and setting of these films – the independently produced SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG (1971) and SUPER FLY (1972) and the two major studio productions COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (1970) and SHAFT (1971) – served as the stylistic template for the many black action movies that followed. The definitive setting was a black ghetto milieu dominated by drugs, pimping and the respective gangster bosses.

In addition to the cool private detective or cop, the pimp and the pusherman were also favored protagonists. These black action heroes showed suitable poise to stand up to “the Man” aka the “white men in power” in surroundings not dissimilar to those lived in by black people in American cities.

Black Caesar | Trailer

The images of black urban culture conveyed by these films, whether street slang, the Afro look, hip clothing, stylish cars and groovy soundtracks, played a major role in their popularity, both in the USA and beyond.

The music, a specific mix of soul, rhythm & blues, funk and jazz, took on an important, often narrative function in the process, which gave the films an element of depth often to some extent lacking in the scripts themselves. During the brief flowering of the genre, James Brown, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield and others wrote some of the most thrilling soundtracks in the history of film. Find the complete program on the Arsenal website: www.arsenal-berlin.de


Friday, 20 July – Friday 24 August 2012
Arsenal | Potsdamer Str. 2 | 10785 Berlin/Mitte