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How To Eat Your Watermelon in White Company

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Multi-talented and prolific, Melvin van Peebles defies categorization, boasting a life and career as diverse and unexpected as the art he’s best known for creating. A trailblazer of the tallest order who has at turns made his living as a filmmaker, a pilot, a novelist and a stockbroker, van Peebles was never deterred by opportunity that failed to knock; he’d simply build his own door and get on with it. After Hollywood rejected his early filmmaking efforts, his self-produced 1971 feature film, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, earned more than $10 million at the box office and indelibly changed independent cinema forever. A pioneer of rap music, a Tony-nominated playwright and a civil rights activist then and now, van Peebles’ remarkable life story is playfully and candidly chronicled, illuminating an artist and a man whose groundbreaking impact on art, politics and pop culture remains, forty-five years after the release of Sweet Sweetback, as relevant as ever.

Reactions, Awards & Festivals

"The very essence of cool...a broad view of a remarkable life”

Joshua Land

Village Voice

“Vivid, inventive...proves conclusively that truth can be more fascinating and better structured than fiction.”

Ronnie Scheib


“See it! A loving tribute to one of the strangest and most enjoyable figures to emerge from American pop culture in its entire history.”

Andrew O’Heir

"Frisky, enthralling and inspiring."

Gene Symour


Chicago International Film Festival 2005 - Nominee, Best Documentary

Official Selection - Tribeca Film Festival

Official Selection - Full Frame Documentary Film Festival

Official Selection - Los Angeles Film Festival

Official Selection - San Francisco Black Film Festival

Cast & Crew
  • Himself : Spike Lee
  • Himself : Mario Van Peebles
  • Himself : St. Clair Bourne
  • Himself : Gil Scott-Heron
  • Himself : Max Van Peebles
  • Himself : Elvis Mitchell
  • Director : Joe Angio
  • Producers : Michael Solomon
  • Writers : Joe Angio, Michael Soloman
  • Editor : Jane Rizzo
  • Original Music : Jeremy Parise
Technical Info
  • Production Year : 2005
  • Release Date : April 7, 2005
  • Countries of Production : USA
  • Languages : English
  • Running Time : 85 Minutes
  • Screen Ratio : 1.78:1
  • Sound : Stereo
  • Color : Color
  • Rating : Not Rated
DVD/Blu-Ray Special Features

Exclusive new video conversation with Melvin Van Peebles

Melvin’s hilarious TV news commentaries

Live concert performances