Looking for Langston

Director: Isaac Julien
1989 | UK | 55m
GENRE: Arts & Literature | Biography/History | Bisexual | Black/African American | Experimental | Gay | Politics | Theatre/Performance Art
SECTION: Retrospective

Read the programmer's introductory remarks from the screening >>

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect year for Looking for Langston to be restored to its full elegance. Three decades ago, a young Isaac Julien dreamed of Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance. He came to New York City to do his research and then returned to the dance clubs and discos of his native London to conjure his visions.

The result is a dreamy meditation on the past and the present, with angels loitering on the balconies and club kids disappearing into thin air. Smoke and mirrors? Langston uses every trick in the book to imagine a utopian moment already in danger, where race-crossing from black to white and back unites male bodies in and out of tuxedos, with and without champagne to toast their dalliances.

Julien’s prophetic black-and-white film is now a classic. Yet it claims the same fierce poetry, desire, argument, and history now being widely celebrated in the films of Barry Jenkins and Raoul Peck. Julien is still ahead of his time, though: his Langston has the homosexuality missing from I Am Not Your Negro, the naked bodies excised from Moonlight. Pulsating with the urgency of the AIDS crisis and Thatcher’s brutal policies of repression, Langston may well be the most essential film revival of 2017.

— B. RUBY RICH

PRECEDED BY:

The Attendant

DIRECTOR Isaac Julien | 1993 | UK | 9m
A middle-aged museum guard locks eyes with a sexy young visitor, igniting a series of fantastical tableaux that wittily riff on race, sexual power dynamics, art history, gold lamé briefs, and Tom of Finland.

CO-PRESENTED BY
Jessica Silverman Gallery