Articles: Black Panther Party: A Phenmonon of History




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April Charmaine

"The Black Panther Film Festival captures the imagination of a new generation."

Exceptional films, revolutionary ideas, and movements for social and political change are at the forefront of themes for the International Black Panther Film Festival.

Kathleen Cleaver, the wife of the late legendary Black Panther leader Eldrige Cleaver, has been working on this film festival since 1999.

The Black Panther Party, which Cleaver has called "a phenomenon of history," originated in 1966 and ceased existence in 1981.

The content of the festival ranges from the past, present and into the future of the Black Panther Party and similar movements.

"The film festival shows that history both in terms of contemporary films and old films and it also shows films about movements that parallel that in terms of either their objective of liberation or in that historical period," Cleaver says.

"This film festival has great importance on a national and international level, "the films aren’t in video stores, the films aren’t on television, and the films most certainly are not in theatres," Cleaver says.

There is a great need to expose the experiences and ideas which have been inspired by the Black Panther Party. In fact, it is the motto of this film festival "to capture the imagination of a new generation" to ensure the continuation of the knowledge and spirit of this movement for the up and coming youth.

"We want young people, particularly young black and Latino people to recognize the legacy of struggle that came before them, we want them to see it, to have a sense of continuing it; and we know this is not what they are learning in school," Cleaver says.

Because of funding and the making of new films there will not be a 2002 film festival.

"We’re actually trying to get corporate sponsors and foundation grants for the next festival," Cleaver says. "The idea is to have a very exceptional group of films; sometimes it takes a long time to get the attention of the distributor or to actually locate the films."

The 2003 festival will undoubtedly be dynamic. Included will be films, which have not been seen or released, workshops, as well as discussions, based on books written about the Black Panther movement. Some titles that have been shown and some that have not been released are "Seize the Time," "41 Shots", "Zapatista," "The Young Lords," among many more.

In the meantime, as plans are being set for 2003, there will be 2002 summer activities including screenings at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. In the early summer months there will be benefits and free community screenings to promote the ideas around the larger festival.

The International Black Panther Film Festival is scheduled to take place in Harlem, NY in 2003. For more information, check out


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