Courtesy Diondai Brown-Whitfield

Courtesy Diondai Brown-Whitfield

On Saturday evening, we were able to experience the highlight of; music, movies, laughter and fun as Chicago celebrated the 5th Annual CIMMFEST. (Chicago International Movies and Music Festival) Our program was created to honor the Lifetime

Achievement of Chicago Native, Mr. Melvin Van Peebles. He’d helped to open the barriers for filmmakers and artists for many generations. His films included; “How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It); The Story of a Three-Day Pass, Sweet Sweetback’s……Song, Don’t Play Us Cheap.” These were based on real life experiences.

A diverse and multigenerational group of people came together to honor our Chicago Maverick, Mr. Melvin Van Peebles. He was raised on the South Side of Chicago. He’d experienced various careers, after graduating from college. They included; the Air Force, painting, Astronomy, journalism and films. He’d also worked in Paris and Holland. He’d written many novels, songs and movies. He’d opened up the doors for many African Americans and other minorities, in the film and music industry. He was also the first African American to trade on the American Stock Exchange. He’d also lived in various countries including; France, Mexico and other areas of Europe. He
speaks various languages with a unique accent. He’s an International Icon that had returned home for the festival.

The evening was great. It began with great hospitality; film clips, music and an open question and answer segment. Mr. Richard Steele moderated the special segment, beside Mr. Van Peebles. He’d explained how he was able to be a pioneer; filmmaker, Parisian novelist, memoirist, reporter, entertainer, etc. for over fifty years. According to Mr. Van Peebles, “When I was flying bombs in the war…I was afraid…I said Lord, just let me make it until I’m 23 and I won’t complain anymore.” From that point on, Mr. Van Peoples lived his life, his way. He’d stated that he’s been able to accomplish a lot because,” I Don’t Take No S….. It’s a little bit hard to walk around with the label of troublemaker.” Yet, he’s earned respect for his works around the world.

He’d opened the doors for many entertainers, including Earth, Wind & Fire, Mario Van Peebles, Spike Lee, John Singleton, etc.. He’d worked beside, Mr. Gordon Parks and Mr. Ossie Davis to break down the Hollywood color barriers. Although he’s earned many awards, he’s maintained the ability to be open and honest. He has 500 more ideas for movies. He’s also supporting, his son Mario in carrying on the works.

He was presented with the, ” BAAD……… Awards”. It was an interesting award made specifically for him. He also took the time to speak to us individually after he’d performed with his International Band. Mr. Van Peebles is a true inspiration to us all. It was a joy to be able to be present at this event.****** Thumbs Up D.B.W.