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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Filmmaking > African American > Political > How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) (2015/Music Box DVD)

How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) (2015/Music Box DVD)

Picture: C Sound: C Extras: A Film: C+

Melvin Van Peebles a pioneer in filming challenged the 1960s with 'Black films', daring to put black actors as main characters and heroes. While at first he was ignored and shunned by American companies. he then proceeded to film in France where there was less discrimination and racism in filming. Shocking and modern, he paved the way for future black film makers, actors and musicians building up to the runaway 1971 smash hit feature film, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. It launched the Blaxploitation films of the decade and cemented Pebbles bold, alternate discourse as a controversial artist.

Who was Melvin Van Peebles? Joe Angio's How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) (2015) is a new documentary that is a biography of the man and covers much of his work, showing us that he was a rebel, a pioneer for Black entertainment, he dared to break social rules and make movies that used Black actors and showed the racial discrimination and bigotry of America in the '60s. This created enormous profit and fame for Peebles and because American companies were afraid of producing 'Black films' or claiming any association only grudging accepted Peebles because they wanted a piece of his pie/profit. Which Melvin was completely aware, the only way for Black rights to move forward or proceed was if Whites profited from it, otherwise you were blacklisted and your film, music would be rejected by the white companies.

This documentary showed the early origins of the current wave of African Americans in movies in front of and behind the camera. Ever wonder where movies like
Shaft and Blacula came from? It was an age where while civil rights in America passed, but nobody said there a problem in ignoring Black ghettos and those who came from there. This is well done, but I wish it were longer.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image mixes all kinds of older, archival footage with new interviews, but it can be rough often, which extends to the sound offered here in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound that drifts between stereo and mono. Extras include conversations with Melvin, commentaries, concert, and trailer.

- Ricky Chiang


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