In an age when Hollywood’s studio system placed severe limits on who controlled what happened on and off camera, two Black filmmakers — Gordon Parks and Melvin Van Peebles — broke down the creative and racial barriers and begat a new vision of filmmaking’s future. Their seminal movies of the 1970s made them founding fathers of the independent film movement.

Ian Haydn Smith, the author of “Cult Filmmakers: 50 Movie Mavericks You Need to Know,” says that Parks and Van Peebles overcame a lot to see their ideas presented on movie screens.

Haydn Smith said that Parks achieved much in the
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