I heard rumors since I was a very young filmmaker that Sweden had more material on the Black Panthers than in America. I didn't believe it. Researching
for another project, I stumbled across this. I realized first of all, this could be a great film and secondly, it's my duty to put this out. This
should not be lying around here. It's for a lot of other people around the world.
Why were all these influential people so open with the Swedish journalists?
Being from the outside was a very important factor, but also Swedes had a reputation at the time. It started long before, when Dr. [Martin Luther] King
received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. That connected the establishment in Sweden to the civil rights movement. And then the younger people connected
to what came after Dr. King. All these people had been in Sweden, lecturing in universities, so I think they knew that people in Sweden [were] open and
interested in these subjects.
Another factor I think is Sweden was neutral at the time. This was the peak of the Cold War, you could say, and Sweden decided—being a tiny but very
rich country—that Swedes should produce all media for Swedes. So we had people going all around the world, reporting to the Swedish audience.
Do you get the sense that, in recent years, there's been a re-evaluation of the Black Power movement?
What I really feel, studying this as an outsider [is], I think, that the stigma or the label that these people had for being violent and terrorists, or
whatever, that's started to change. The mainstream society took the J. Edgar Hoover view of them as dangerous to society, and a threat to everyone
basically, and I think that's total crap.
You have to remember that these people were not extra violent or driven by rage, or something. They all came from university. Even the Panthers started
at Berkeley. This was the first generation, you could say, that got an education. They used that education to think critically.
What about their general rejection of non-violence?
There's [another] misunderstanding. You're talking about non-violence. That's a method. That's a method you can use, like [Mahatma] Gandhi and Dr.
King. You gather a lot of people and stand passively. It's not a passive method because it's active. You have to get there. You have to get on the
docks. You have to get to Washington. It's not passive, non-violence.
If you're saying non-violence doesn't work, it's a method that doesn't work. It doesn't mean you have to pick up a gun. It means that the non-violent
method didn't work. [The belief was] we have to write books. We have to educate people. Saying no to the method of non-violence, that doesn't mean
Why did you seek commentary from younger musicians such as Talib Kweli and Questlove?
This archive is extraordinary in several senses. It's also very crisp, high-resolution, well-preserved, so you don't get tired looking at it. However
brilliant and good [it might be], a film from archives [is] claustrophobic. In order to put oxygen into the container of this footage you have to have
something outside, from today. Commentaries, was my idea. And then I had of course Angela [Davis] commenting and then we needed some [different]
dynamic from this commentary in order to have this oxygen process, to not make it too contained.