Described as “a conspiracy of ritual, street theater, soul music, and cinema,” Right On! is a pioneering concert film, a compelling record of radical Black sentiment in 1960s America, and a precursor of the hip-hop revolution in musical culture. Shot guerilla-style on the streets and rooftops of lower Manhattan, it features the original Last Poets performing 28 numbers adapted from their legendary Concept-East Poetry appearance at New York’s Paperback Theater in 1969. Opening almost simultaneously with Melvin Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Right On! was described by its producer as “the first ‘totally black film,’” making “no concession in language and symbolism to white audiences.” The film has rarely screened over the past 30 years, and this is the premiere run of MoMA’s new restoration, made from the recently recovered 35mm negative. This restoration was undertaken by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation and Paul Newman (San Francisco). A special appearance by the Original Last Poets accompanies the premiere; details are forthcoming.
Organized by Ron Magliozzi, Associate Curator, Department of Film.