Brother to Brother
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Distributor: Ventura Distribution
Running time: 90 minutes
Film Review by Kam Williams
Native New Yorker Perry (Anthony Mackie) is "young, gifted and black." Oh, and "gay", too. And when his homophobic father catches him in a compromising position with another guy, the promising fine artist gets the boot and has to add "struggling" to that string of descriptive adjectives.
Surprisingly, getting kicked out of the house might be the best thing that ever happened to Perry because it serendipitously forces him to come to grips with his homosexuality. The man who happens to help him in this regard is Bruce Nugent, a hobo he meets at a homeless shelter.
Turns out that this down-on-his-luck senior citizen had enjoyed a measure of success as a writer during the Harlem Renaissance back in the Twenties.
Now, their unlikely liaison induces Bruce to start reminiscing, nostalgically, about his glory days . So, he proceeds to recall rubbing more than elbows with the likes of Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman and other well-known gays of the era. In turn, Perry is ultimately able to transform his embarrassment about being gay into a source of self-esteem.
Brother to Brother is a refreshingly-honest empowerment flick set against an historical examination of African-American homosexuality This remarkable picture, which won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance, ought to serve as a long-overdue wake-up call to the black community where macho intolerance and suicidal denial has left it with America's highest HIV-infection rate.
Consciousness-raising aside, the movie was written and directed by Rodney Evans, who garners high grades for deftly resorting to the helpful cinematic device of shooting the present-day sequences in color, the flashbacks in black-and-white. A production which earns accolades for so sensitively shedding light on a subject many would prefer be kept in the closet.