Black Panthers
Directed byAgnès Varda
CinematographyDavid Myers[1]
Agnès Varda
Cine-Tamaris [fr]
Release date
  • 1968 (1968)
Running time
28 minutes
United States[2]

Black Panthers is a 1968 short documentary film directed by Agnès Varda.[3]

The film focuses on the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California, during protests over the arrest of Black Panther co-founder Huey P. Newton for the murder of police officer John Frey in 1967.[4]


Title screen

In the summer of 1968, people arrive in Oakland to protest Huey P. Newton's arrest. Newton is interviewed and talks about his poor treatment while incarcerated and talks about the ideals of the Black Panther movement which includes protecting the black community from the police, informing them of their rights, and taking advantage of license to carry firearm laws in order to arm Panthers against the police.

Other people are interviewed, including Kathleen Cleaver[5] who talks about the natural hair movement and the increasing importance of women in positions of authority in the Black Panther movement. The film ends with Newton's conviction for manslaughter and a hate crime involving two police officers shooting the window of a Black Panther office where Newton's picture had been hung in the front window.


Varda and her crew shot the film in 1968 during her time in California while her husband Jacques Demy was in Hollywood working on Model Shop.[6]


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2020)

The Criterion Collection released the film as part of the Eclipse box set Agnès Varda in California in 2015.[7]


In 2020, Eric Kohn of IndieWire wrote of the film: "Viewed from a contemporary perspective, as the streets light up with the fury over yet more injustices against black people by the police, Black Panthers is timelier than ever, and a welcome antidote to blaring media headlines — a movie that goes beyond gawking at anger and frustration to highlight its genuine purpose."[6]


  1. ^ Smith, Alison (1998). Agnes Varda. French Film Directors. Manchester University Press. p. 201. ISBN 978-0719050619.
  2. ^ "Black Panthers". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  3. ^ Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia At The Berkeley Art Museum | East Bay Express
  4. ^ "Black Panthers (1968) directed by Agnès Varda" (in French). Cine-Tamaris. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  5. ^ Dargis, Manohla (18 December 2019). "The Many Ways of Seeing Agnès Varda". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  6. ^ a b Kohn, Eric (2 June 2020). "Stream of the Day: Agnes Varda's 'Black Panthers' Documentary Is Timelier Than Ever". IndieWire. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  7. ^ Palmer, Landon (18 August 2015). "Agnès Varda in California: A French New Waver Surfs the Wild West". NonFics. Archived from the original on 20 August 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2016.