In 1973, filmmaker Bill Gunn’s vampire/addiction movie Ganja & Hess was a sensation at the Cannes Film Festival. Starring Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, musician Sam Waymon, and Gunn himself, this mysterious, fascinating film should have been an arthouse sensation in the States. Instead it played a single New York theater for two weeks, before it was pulled and eventually re-edited in a more conventional manner for the exploitation market. I talked with Christopher Sieving, author of Pleading the Blood: Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess, about the film, Gunn’s greatest works, and the career that this remarkable director, writer, and actor should have had.
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