19 September 2003 | susansweb
One-sided to the extreme
I was interested in seeing this film because I know very little about the black panther party. The film is an oral history of the party from its beginnings to what everyone is up to in the late `90's. This being a controversial organization, a lot of accusations are made toward the government orchestrating the downfall of the party. The problem is that there is no opposing viewpoints to rebut any accusation. So-called experts (what are their qualifications?), quick glimpses of documents (which could be anything) and former FBI officials (disgruntled, perhaps?) are used to help bolster the arguments. One huge mistake is that when this was made, the news story broken by the San Jose Mercury News about the CIA working with drug smugglers to funnel cocaine into poor black neighborhoods was used to end the documentary, the intention being, I guess, to show that things still haven't gotten better. The only problem was that since then, the news article has been proved to be false. Another thing, is that a few people are interviewed in prison, including Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier. I know why they are in prison, but with the exception of Peltier, the film never says why they are in prison. The mentioning of A.I.M. was curious because, it seemed like a minor point in the history of the black panthers. Some of the accusations are a little wild - one of the wives of the party leadership was a FBI plant and that a FBI official was most likely murdered by the FBI are just two of them, of course no one is asked to disprove this, which would have made this film a little more believable. As it is, it is hard to swallow. Which is a shame because I feel there is a lot here to believe.