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Music isn’t the reason to see The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975, despite the involvement of Questlove and other current-day musicians in the project, which collects long-unused footage shot by Swedish journalists at a crucial time in America’s racial history. Filmmaker Göran Hugo Olsson generally chooses cool poignancy over political heat; the best scene features the otherwise razor-sharp Stokely Carmichael gingerly interviewing his mother about bigotry and deprivation. He and other prominent figures—Angela Davis, Eldridge Cleaver, Huey P. Newton, etc.—are presented with an unblinking and inquisitive sensibility, one that brings nuance to a movement the hip-hop generation tends to summarize. And the film is priceless as a visual archive: The scenes of everyday people seem uncommonly direct, perhaps because so much of the era’s legacy has been packaged for drama. In the end, this Mixtape is all about people talking—not for soundbites, but for real.
The film shows all week at E Street Cinema.