A Wide Shot: Expanding the Frame on Melvin Van Peebles

deadline for submissions: 
February 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Black Camera: An International Film Journal
contact email: 

Call for Close-Up Submissions A Wide Shot: Expanding the Frame on Melvin Van Peebles


This Black Camera Close-Up invites submissions on filmmaker, producer, screenwriter, novelist, humorist, playwright, musician, composer, musical performer, actor, graphic novelist, and cultural provocateur, Melvin Van Peebles. Van Peebles scholarship is dominated by a conversation around his genre-defining film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971). This Close-Up revisits Van Peebles particularly by recontextualizing Sweetback, occasioned by his death in 2021 and the release of his collected works by the Criterion Collection. Van Peebles was a man of great complexity and ambition. The variety of his creative labor is fertile terrain for international, intercultural, and interdisciplinary scholarship. Can we discern features of the Black Arts Tradition in Van Peebles’s films? Is fugitivity, as a mode of representation, a means to interrogate his films? Are diasporic and postcolonial frameworks appropriate? What about the fiction of Chester Himes, James Baldwin, and William Melvin Kelley? By looking at Van Peebles in totality, and not just through Sweetback, what can we say about representations of race, racism, gender, and sexuality in his films? Essays should concentrate on aspects of Van Peebles’s oeuvre and biography understudied or unexplored in the existing scholarship. Subject areas for consideration include:


• The Black diaspora

• The Black radical tradition

• African American expatriates

• Third Cinema

• The French New Wave

• Anticolonial and postcolonial themes and aesthetics

• Journalism and the black press

• Humor

• Folk narratives

• Pre-Paris years

• Fugitive readings of his early short films to Sweetback

• Aesthetic strategies

• Production practices

• Biographical history

• Production, distribution, and exhibition studies

• Music: composition, performance, and soundtracks

• Afterlives and influences

• Gender and masculinity

• Racism and race

• Queer studies


The guest editor welcomes submissions for publication from a variety of disciplinary and analytical perspectives including essays, commentaries, photo galleries, and interviews. Essays should not exceed 9,000 words; commentary and interviews should not exceed 4,000 words. Please submit completed essays, a 150-word abstract as well as a 50–100 word author biography by July 1, 2023 (deadline extended from Feb 1 2023). Submissions should conform to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. Please see journal guidelines for more on the submission policy. Direct all questions, correspondence, and submissions to guest editor Sam Smucker (sajsmuck@iu.edu)