Brother to Brother

Director: Rodney Evans
2004 | USA | 94m
GENRE: Black/African American | Discrimination | Drama | Gay | Historical Fiction
SECTION: Retrospective | US Feature
Expected Guests: Director Rodney Evans


We are proud to present a 15th anniversary screening on 35mm of the narrative feature debut of this year’s Frameline Award recipient Rodney Evans, the seminal gay classic Brother to Brother, winner of Frameline28’s Audience Award and a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Perry Williams (Anthony Mackie, Avengers: Infinity War) is an African American art student living in Harlem. Faced with promising career opportunities, he is nonetheless ambivalent about a "success" that means ascendancy in a white-dominated world of privilege. Moreover, as a gay Black man, he straddles seemingly different worlds and often feels a lack of rootedness or community—chafing under the homophobia of Black classmates, the rejection of his family, and the fetishization of his hot-and-cold white lover. Perry’s life takes a major turn when he meets Bruce Nugent (Roger Robinson), an elderly, familiar neighborhood character whose name Perry recognizes as a leader of the legendary Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s.

A painter and poet, and a gay man himself, Bruce gradually befriends Perry. He shares vivid stories of his collaborations with an artistic circle that included Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Wallace Thurman, whose radical and impassioned work often ran aground of liberal Black attitudes of the day. He also provides Perry with a rare insight into the gay Black history in which he is a participant. Graced with a powerful role model and a longer view of history, Perry is emboldened to confront his demons and claim his unique place in the world. Moving, insightful, and rich in historical detail, Rodney Evans’ first feature is a compelling portrait of hard-won personal dignity, and of life lived in the long shadow of history—with both its ponderous weight, and its occasional liberations.


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MoAD  /  James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center, San Francisco Public Library