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The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution


The story of the Black Panthers is often told in a scatter of repackaged parts, often depicting tragic, mythic accounts of violence and criminal activity. Master documentarian Stanley Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. An essential history, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, is a vibrant, human, living and breathing chronicle of this pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America.

Actors: Stu Richel
Directors: Stanley Nelson
Country: N/A
Release: 2015-10-23
More Info:
  • Andrew O'Hehir

    What we see in Stanley Nelson’s urgent and necessary documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is the story of an organization that meant many different things to many different people, and that changed so dramatically during five years or so in the national spotlight that it could almost be described as reshaping itself month by month and putting forward a distinctive face at almost every moment. Full Review
  • Katie Walsh

    It’s clear that the Panther legacy lives on, and Nelson’s film is a necessary primer for understanding the party — in it’s own words.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • A.O. Scott

    What is clear from this sober yet electrifying film is that the power of the Panthers was rooted in their insistence — radical then, radical still — that black lives matter.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    It's a strong reminder of the times, then and now.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Odie Henderson

    The film avoids hagiography, and in doing so, brings out the undeniable humanity of its subjects. Full Review
  • Tom Huddleston

    This is a forceful, initially uplifting, ultimately sobering illustration of how much protest matters, how far those in power will go to stifle it, and how ugly and criminal those efforts look in hindsight.

    Time Out London Full Review
  • Kenneth Turan

    An organization that stubbornly resists being pigeonholed, the Black Panther Party emerges from this documentary with its significance enhanced but some of its tactics questioned.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • John DeFore

    Straight history is not the whole point here, as Nelson enthusiastically conjures a sense of what it felt like to be a Panther and to be a young black person inspired by them.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Joshua Rothkopf

    Strikes an intelligent balance between funk-scored pride and a more universal story of activism threatened by in-fighting and accidental celebrity.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Alan Scherstuhl

    The film, with its traditional mix of talking heads and vintage footage, does not try to hide the Panthers' advocacy of violence.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Jeff Baker

    Uses a deft mix of archival footage and interviews with historians and some very articulate Panther veterans.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    If “The Black Panthers” has been designed to leave viewers outraged and energized in equal measure, it succeeds with admirable style. It counts both as essential history and a primer in making sense of how we live now.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Farran Smith Nehme

    This is mostly a sad and bloody tale, as the Panthers are decimated first by the machinations of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, and then by dissension in their own ranks.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Noel Murray

    Stanley Nelson’s absorbing, provocative documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard Of The Revolution measures how much and how little has changed since Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale co-founded the Panthers in Oakland in 1966.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Dennis Harvey

    A sturdy recap of the titular organization’s short, tumultuous history.

    Variety Full Review
  • Bilge Ebiri

    No doubt, Black Panthers won’t be for everybody. Despite Nelson’s efforts at balance, this is a largely admiring portrait, and there will be those who wish the film focused more on the Panthers’ less savory actions and cases. But the film is also refreshingly clearheaded about the limits of idealism and provocative action.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Anthony Lane

    With no narrator to shepherd us along, the movie feels noisy and restless. The period is revived by a wealth of songs on the soundtrack, and by the sleek and succulent Panther look.

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • Oleg Ivanov

    It both feeds off of and perpetuates nostalgia for a time when the nation seemed more politically conscious and therefore more capable of creating lasting social change.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • David Parkinson

    While strong on establishment prejudice, the coverage of clashing egos and agendas isn’t always incisive.

    Empire Full Review
  • Jordan Hoffman

    Not a particularly exceptional movie in form, but as a thorough record it is extraordinary.

    New York Daily News Full Review