Melvin Van Peebles died at his home with family on Tuesday, his son and the Criterion Collection confirmed on Twitter.
A cause of death was not disclosed.
"Dad knew that Black images matter. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what was a movie worth? We want to be the success we see, thus we need to see ourselves being free. True liberation did not mean imitating the colonizer's mentality. It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people," Mario Van Peebles said in a statement.
"In an unparalleled career, Van Peebles made an indelible mark on the international cultural landscape. He will be deeply missed," the Criterion Collection said.
The Criterion Collection also announced that Melvin Van Peebles' film Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song will be screened at the New York Film Festival this weekend. Criterion Collection will additionally be releasing a box set of his films and his play Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death will return to Broadway next year.
Melvin Van Peebles is also known for the films Watermelon Man and Identity Crisis, the latter of which was penned by Mario Van Peebles, who also starred.
He penned and starred in the film Panther, which was directed by his son. Mario Van Peebles also directed his father in Love Kills and Redemption Road.
Other acting credits for Melvin Van Peebles include roles in films True Identity, Boomerang, Last Action Hero, Terminal Velocity, The Hebrew Hammer and on television shows Sonny Spoon, In the Heat of the Night, Dream On, Living Single and Homicide: Life on the Street.