Three by Bill Gunn

Three by Bill Gunn

5 Episodes

One of the most electrifying but unjustly neglected talents to emerge from the creative ferment of 1970s American cinema, actor, writer, and director Bill Gunn blazed a new trail for Black independent filmmakers with his avant-visionary, Afrocentric vampire myth GANJA & HESS and PERSONAL PROBLEMS, an epic, intensely intimate “meta-soap opera” (as writer Ishmael Reed called it) that went virtually unseen for decades before reemerging to widespread acclaim. Those twin masterpieces are presented alongside Ján Kadár’s THE ANGEL LEVINE, an overlooked Bernard Malamud adaptation cowritten by Gunn and starring Zero Mostel and Harry Belafonte. With their bold, iconoclastic style and focus on the lives of intellectual and middle-class Black characters, Gunn’s uncompromising films were decades ahead of their time—only now is the world beginning to catch up.

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Three by Bill Gunn
  • The Angel Levine

    Episode 1

    Directed by Ján Kadár • 1970 • United States
    Starring Zero Mostel, Harry Belafonte, Ida Kaminska

    Ján Kadár, codirector of the Oscar-winning Czechoslovak New Wave touchstone THE SHOP ON MAIN STREET, made his Hollywood debut with this unique, long-overlooked adaptation of a Bernard Malamud story, ...

  • Ganja & Hess

    Episode 2

    Directed by Bill Gunn • 1973 • United States
    Starring Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, Bill Gunn

    Straining the conventions of blaxploitation and horror through a singular avant-garde sensibility, Bill Gunn’s revolutionary independent landmark GANJA & HESS is a highly stylized and utterly original tre...

  • PERSONAL PROBLEMS: Volume 1

    Episode 3

    Directed by Bill Gunn • 1980 • United States
    Starring Vertamae Grosvenor, Walter Cotton, Jim Wright

    Bill Gunn’s follow-up to his underground landmark GANJA & HESS was the result of an extraordinary collaboration with renowned writer Ishmael Reed, who described the project as a “meta–soap opera” ...

  • PERSONAL PROBLEMS: Volume 2

    Episode 4

    Directed by Bill Gunn • 1980 • United States
    Starring Vertamae Grosvenor, Walter Cotton, Jim Wright

    Bill Gunn’s follow-up to his underground landmark GANJA & HESS was the result of an extraordinary collaboration with renowned writer Ishmael Reed, who described the project as a “meta–soap opera” ...

  • Bill Gunn Interview

    Episode 5

    This wide-ranging interview with director Bill Gunn was conducted in 1983.

    Interview conducted by Phyllis R. Klotman, courtesy of Black Film Center/Archive, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. The Black Film Center/Archive was established in 1981 as the first archival repository dedicated...