a film by Rodney Evans
2004 | 94 mins | US
›› Brother to Brother
a soulful feature on the fight for African-American gay rights
Brother to Brother by Rodney Evans Disowned by his father for being gay and with a Caucasian lover unaware of his racist remarks, African-American painter Perry takes solace in his political and artistic studies, the poetic readings of his straight best friend Marcus, together with his work at a refuge for the homeless.

A charity run organisation that brings him in contact with an elderly man named Bruce; Bruce Nugent that is, poet, artist and contemporary of such legendary figures as poet Langston Hughes, novelist Zora Neale Hurston and writer Wallace Thurman. Still with a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face after all these years, this gay ole gent hasnít lost his touch to tell a story, transporting Perry back in time with his vivid recollections of the glory days of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and of their fight for human rights. Words that strike an emotional chord with Perry, reflecting as-they-do his own struggles to find a voice as an out African-American gay artist within the community of his birth.

Brother to Brother by Rodney Evans Overflowing with a series of touching cinematic moments, here writer and director Rodney Evans has delivered a heartfelt work of love that boldly draws parallels between artists of differing time periods. That Perry is not afraid to be openly gay in a brotherhood ingrained with light-skin versus dark-skin bigotry, let alone homophobia, mirrors Nugentís own experiences of pushing the envelope by way of co-founding the too radical for its day, seminal literary journal Fire!

Raising the gay stakes, Evans laces his work with interracial same-sex relationships, bathhouse cruising, cottaging tales and of a man with firsthand experience of the bloody reality of sexual prejudice. Yet whilst the moving performances from Roger Robinson as Bruce Nugent, the elder and Anthony Mackie as student of life Perry form the pathos backbone of this work, it is the monochrome flashbacks of the Roaring Twenties that wonderfully capture the gay and lesbian underground of the day, with Duane Boutté of Stonewall fame here the vibrant spirit of Nugent, the younger; one of the many gifted cast of players.

The result is a soulful feature whose dual narrative not only works, but aided by archive footage of the period, coupled with poignant enactments of the thoughts and experiences of James Baldwin and Eldridge Cleaver, present you with an informative, entertaining, but above all, a deeply absorbing work, even if it remains rightly bitter that the fight for acceptance; be it racial, sexual or equality of marriage, for some, is still an ongoing battle.
DVD available 04.10.2010 as part of the Peccadillo Pictures catalogue
screened as part of the 18th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2004
starring: Anthony Mackie, Larry Gilliard Jr., Duane Boutté, Daniel Sunjata, Alex Burns, Ray Ford
with Aunjanue Ellis as Zora Neale Hurston and Roger Robinson as Bruce Nugent, the elder
dedicated to the artistry, legacy and spirit of Richard Bruce Nugent
Copyright 2009 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #254
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