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DJ XL5's Blaxploitation Zappin' Party

  • USA
  • 2014
  • 110 mins
  • Video
  • English
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After Bollywood (2010), Mexican genre cinema (2011), Italian exploitation films (2012), a history of movie zombies (2013) and the age of spandex (2013), DJ XL5 now sets his view-finder of Black American cinema of the ’70s. Laborious preparation demanded the viewing of almost 200 feature films, of which 60 made the cut for the XL5 supercut. This mash-up surveys the seismic impact of the genre on popular culture, still felt today in the contemporary cinema of the hip hop scene. DJ XL5’s project is a loving look back at black films of the era. A large and ambitious project, accompanied by five screenings at the Cinémathèque Québécoise, each reflecting another facet of the era — the political manifesto, the Western, the comedy, the drama and the martial-arts movie. They include SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG (1971) by Melvin Van Pebbles, BOSS (1975) , directed by Jack Arnold, DARKTOWN STRUTTERS by William Witney, TOUGH (1974) by Horace Jackson and NERFS D'ACIER, GANTS DE VELOURS, the French dub of Cesar Gallardo’s BAMBOO GODS AND IRON MEN (1974).

Presenting its material in chronological order, DJ XL5’S BLAXPLOITATION ZAPPIN’ PARTY showcases the genre from its earliest moments to its final stages. It celebrates the mythic characters and the craftspeople who brought them to life on often tiny budgets. A mix of film clips and trailers, it dives into the heart of a vibrant culture, to the strains of truly memorable and amazing soundtracks. Whether the directors were black or white, blaxploitation films of the 1970s spotlighted potent, iconic heroes, and their sensibilities were present across genres — the Western, the police drama, the ganster film, horror, prison flicks, biker movies, the biopic, sports dramas, martial arts, musical documentary and comedy. Pimps, dealers, gangsters et prostitutes prowl though the frames of these movies, which also provided a solid soapbox for political voices and social concerns, and saluted the proud and the free. Tough protagonists standing up to “the Man” and against blind authority, corruption, drug trafficking, societal decay, organized crime and racism. Many of them capture the struggles of a community in a time of emancipation. Arrive early — surprises await the first to be seated!

— Marc Lamothe

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