MVP in the house

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mvpcomploThe life and work of Melvin Van Peebles pretty much epitomizes the spirit of independent, unconventional and outsider artists. MVP has always been unique, raw, resourceful and head-strong. Those lucky enough to attend the intimate master class with him last night at the Film Forum got to hear the living legend relate great stories and ideas- some spoken, some sung. He talked his about life, his work and the creative process. He recalled learning the art of haggling while selling clothes from his father’s tailor shop on the streets of Chicago when he was a kid. He admitted that he’d all but given up filmmaking when he received a letter from French Cinematheque founder Henri Langlois hailing him as a genius and inviting him to Paris. He talked about his feisty and experimental methods making “Watermelon Man” and “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” He insisted that an artist has to always be willing and able to say no and walk away. And, when asked about his process of documenting and developing ideas, he pulled a notebook from his Spongebob Squarepants backpack and began improvising a song from observations he’d recently jotted down.

Thanks to everyone who was there and part of the unique discussion. And whether or not you were in attendance for that, you won’t want to miss his new, low-tech indie feature film “Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus” showing at the Film Forum this week. MVP will be in attendance for the Wednesday 8pm screening to introduce and field questions after the film.

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