African American Filmmaking

William Greaves

If there are two words that describe public appreciation of William Greaves, they would be “belated” and “lacking.” The film Greaves is best known for, 1971’s Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, didn’t see an official theatrical release until thirty years after its completion (thanks in part to the support of Steve Buscemi and Steven Soderbergh). When Greaves passed away last month at the age of 87, he left behind an amazing body of work, having produced and directed dozens of documentaries. Yet even amongst this country’s underrepresented class of African American filmmakers, Greaves’ contributions remain overlooked. It is no exaggeration to say that media gatekeepers have been wary of Greaves’ work. Greaves decided at an early age not to be relegated by Hollywood’s single-minded understanding of blackness and the lack of creative opportunities it permits for persons of color. Greaves used these limitations as the lifeblood of his work, challenging political, institutional, and aesthetic boundaries. One look at Symbiopsychotaxiplasm explains, but does not justify, its delayed release: this is the work of his filmmaker ahead of his time, and one with no patience for conventional approaches to filmmaking. So here is a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from an essential American filmmaker.


From a family legacy to positive portrayals of black youth to showing up at the club with your kids, Mario Van Peebles and his son Mandela cover it all while discussing their forthcoming flick We The Party. To the bass beat of The Rej3ctz and Snoop Dogg, we discuss rising above racism, staying hip, heading out in a hoodie and a whole lot more. Plus, Movies Editor Matt Patches joins us for Movie News Roulette and weighs in on Bully and Ninja Turtles. Download Episode #127

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published: 12.23.2014
published: 12.22.2014
published: 12.19.2014

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