“Agnès Varda was living in California when the Black Panthers became everyday headlines after their leader was arrested for allegedly killing a policeman on October 28, 1967. Huey P. Newton’s trial was still ongoing in 1968, which prompted Varda to direct two nonfiction short films about the demonstrations organized in his support. Huey captures the militant atmosphere of the “free Huey” campaign, focusing on the rally organized on February 17th, 1968, to celebrate imprisoned Huey P. Newton’s twenty-second birthday whereas Black Panthers delves into the culture of the Party by investigating into the local dynamics of its Oakland branch.
Quite interestingly, the two films have generated a confusion which more often than not has passed unnoticed in Agnès Varda’s filmography: Huey and Black Panthers are mistakenly referred to as the French and English versions of the same film although they encompass two distinct projects.
Huey’s raw black and white footage strives to convey an inside view of the Black Panther Party as Varda attended the 1968 rally in an attempt to better understand the ideological underpinning of the movement whereas Black Panthers’ colored images highlight the Party’s everyday activities, enhancing the role of African American women engaged in the fight for collective rights in the police-targeted communities. While Huey’s film discourse relies on editing only, Black Panthers includes an explanatory voice-over giving informative details and framing the Panthers’ project in a sympathetic light.” (source)