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It’s with a heavy heart that I report Melvin Van Peebles has passed away. 

The groundbreaking director, playwright, author, and actor died Tuesday night (September 21) at his home in Manhattan. 

Melvin’s family, The Criterion Collection and Janus Films announced his passing with the following statement.

On behalf of the Van Peebles family, The Criterion Collection and Janus Films are saddled to announce the passing of a giant of American cinema, Melvin Van Peebles, who died last night, at home with family, at the age of 89.

In an unparalleled career distinguished by relentless innovation, boundless curiosity and spiritual empathy, Melvin Van Peebles made an indelible mark on the International cultural landscape through his films, novels, plays, and music. His work continues to be essential and is being celebrated at the New York Film Festival this weekend with a 50th anniversary screening of his landmark film, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song; a Criterion Collection box set, Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films next week; and a revival of his play “Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death,” slated for a return to Broadway next year.

In a brief statement on his father’s passing, Mario Van Peebles, his son and longtime creative collaborator, said, “Dad knew that Black images matter. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what was a movie worth? We want to be the success we see, thus we need to see ourselves being free. True liberation did not mean imitating the colonizer’s mentality. It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people.”

We offer our deepest sympathies to the Van Peebles family.

See the original statement below.

Mario Van Peebles took to Instagram and posted a photo of “No Identity Crisis: A Father and Son’s Own Story of Working Together,” the book he and his father wrote together.

My sincerest condolences to the Van Peebles family and all who knew and loved him.

May he rest in paradise.