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Brother to Brother

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On Tuesday, June 14th, many PBS stations air the independent film Brother to Brother (check local listings). It is also out uncut on DVD (site for film and DVD).

This is one of the best independent films to debut on PBS since the days of American Playhouse. The film received funding from ITVS and is the final program of this season’s Independent Lens (which will return in the fall after POV concludes). There were many good reviews during a brief theatrical release last year.

On a very limited budget, Rodney Evans is able to tell a compelling story. Perry, an art student, meets Bruce Nugent, a gay artist from the Harlem Renaissance.

The film weaves contemporary color sequences between the student and the elderly artist with black and white sequences with Nugent and Wallace Thurman, Aaron Douglas, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston.

They worked on the innovative literary magazine Fire!. There is a list of related books.

One of the producers of the film is Jim McKay who directed Our Song and Everyday People.

Because of the FCC and congressional crackdown on content on television, PBS is airing an edited version. A couple of years ago, stations probably would have been able to choose between an edited and unedited version. Now, people will have to get the DVD to view the complete film. The DVD is worth getting. It also includes several deleted scenes, two good commentaries by actor Anthony Mackie and director Rodney Evans, and an interview with Evans.
But seeing it on PBS is still much better than not watching it at all.

The title of the film alludes to Marlon Riggs whose film Tongues Untied caused a storm of controversy when it was shown on PBS in 1991.

Strangely, KQED in San Francisco only currently has the film (which played last year at both the SF International Festival and the Frameline LGBT fest) scheduled on one of their digital channels.

Update: KQED is showing it on July 12, 2005 at 11 pm.

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About Steve Rhodes

  • HW Saxton

    If any hipsters out there want to see
    where the roots of the “Beat Movement”
    lie, I would suggest watching this DVD.

    If it were not for Hughes,DuBois and all
    of the kindred spirits that they found
    inspiration in Uptown, the Beat Movement
    likely would’ve developed along very
    different lines.

    The poetry, the music and the gut level
    emotion of many of the Renaissance best
    artists comes through loud and clear in
    the works of Corso,Ginsberg,Keroauc and
    many more.