Hollywood filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles has died at 89.
The news was confirmed by his son Mario Van Peebles to Variety on Wednesday.
“Dad knew that Black images matter,” Mario said in a statement from the Criterion Collection.
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, what was a movie worth? We want to be the success we see, thus we need to see ourselves being free. True liberation did not mean imitating the colonizer’s mentality. It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people.”
Van Peebles earned many directing, writing, and acting credits as well as multiple awards, including a Daytime Emmy and a Chicago Underground Film Festival Award. He also won a NAACP Image Award.
“In an unparalleled career distinguished by relentless innovation, boundless curiosity and spiritual empathy, Melvin Van Peebles made an indelible mark on the international cultural landscape through his films, novels, plays and music,” another statement, this time from his son, The Criterion Collection and Janus Films reads.
“His work continues to be essential and is being celebrated at the New York Film Festival this weekend with a 50th anniversary screening of his landmark film ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song’; a Criterion Collection box set, ‘Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films,’ next week; and a revival of his play ‘Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death,’ slated for a return to Broadway next year.”