Brother To Brother

“Harlem Renaissance” was the name of the first Afro-American cultural movement in the USA in the 1920s. The driving force of the “New Negro Movement” as it was also known, were artists and intellectuals. However, the movement was not only limited to poetry, painting and music – the group’s parties and clubs also turned north Manhattan into a centre of cultural activity.
Rodney Evans’ film focuses on Perry, a young homosexual artist and New Yorker who has fallen out with his family. He is working in an asylum for the homeless to pay for his college education. Here, Perry encounters one of the movement’s proponents and in so doing becomes acquainted with the era’s legacy.
Perry is listening to his boyfriend, Marcus, reciting one of his poems one day when an old man steps up out of the blue, recites some poetry and disappears again.
Perry finds the verses recited by the unknown old man in a book about the “Harlem Renaissance”. He identifies the poem as one of Bruce Nugent’s. After this, Perry comes across the old man regularly at the hostel and it soon transpires that he is none other than Nugent himself. In 1926, Nugent and other writers and friends including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Wallace Thurman, co-founded the literary magazine, “Fire!!”. Subtitled “A Negro Quarterly of the Arts”, the periodical was to become the central organ of the “Harlem Renaissance”.
Nugent’s stories bring to life an entire historical era for Perry. The young man begins to realise that the story of the “Harlem Renaissance” is also his story. Moreover, the encounter helps him to sort out some of the existential issues in his own life …
by Rodney Evans
with Anthony Mackie, Roger Robinson, Aunjanue Ellis
USA 2003 90’

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