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Directed by Ralph Bakshi
Distributed by
Written by Ralph Bakshi
Country USA
IMDb profile

Coonskin is a 1975 film written and directed by Ralph Bakshi which follows several African American woodland creatures including a rabbit and a bear as they fight their way to the top of the organized crime racket in Harlem, New York. Bakshi has stated that his intention with the film was to satirize black stereotypes and the greater blaxploitation.

Released under several different titles including Bustin' Out and Street Fight, the film encountered strong criticism for what some saw as inherently racist characters, actions and content.

Controversy

After the film's completion a screening was organized at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City which was promptly protested by Al Sharpton and the Congress of Racial Equality. Sharpton believed the film's content was racist despite not having seen the film and the fact that only a single other screening had taken place in California less than a week before the NYC screening.

Eventually Bakshi convinced the protestors to come inside and decide for themselves. Sharpton remained unconvinced and promptly charged towards the screen at the end of the film but was not followed by his fellow protestors with several voices allegedly voicing praise for the film. [1].

Due to these events and several others at subsequent screenings, Paramount Pictures - the original distributor - allowed Bakshi to be released from his contract and explore other options. The Bryanston Distributing Company was assigned the distribution rights but went bankrupt some two weeks after the film's premiere.

Cult Status

Since the events of the film's release it has been re-released on video several times by several distribution companies including Academy Entertainment and Xenon Entertainment Group leading to a cult status among animation and crime genre fans.

With its resurgence in popularity, Coonskin has become a staple of hip-hop culture with rap collective Wu-Tang Clan expressing interest in supporting a sequel were one to be made.

Despite the film's status and ranking as the 97th best animated film of all time as voted by the Online Film Critics Society, it has still not been released on DVD. [2]

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