Combining an intensely sexual and dramatic story set today with a memory film-within-a-film set in '30s Harlem, Brother to Brother is completely original and ambitious film.
Brother to Brother is a film written and directed by Rodney Evans and released in 2004. The film debuted at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival before playing the gay and lesbian film festival circuit, with a limited theatrical release in late 2004.
Art student Perry (Anthony Mackie) befriends an elderly homeless man named Bruce Nugent(Roger Robinson), who turns out to have been an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Through recalling his friendships with other important Harlem Renaissance figures Langston Hughes (Daniel Sunjata), Aaron Douglas, Wallace Thurman and Zora Neale Hurston, Bruce chronicles some of the challenges he faced as a young, black, gay writer in the 1920s. Perry discovers that the challenges of homophobia and racism he faces in the early 21st century closely parallel Bruce's.
Perry (Mackie) is a gay African-American artist/student, whose life and loves is one focus of this original and compelling film. The other focus is the memory story of Bruce Nugent, a poet and painter of Harlem Renaissance, who Perry meets on the street. Perry is a young very handsome guy who battles homophobia in his classes, as hip straight African-American artists slam the black gay experience. He falls in lust with a blonde-haired classmate Jim (Burns) who, it turns out, fetishizes his lover for his "sweet lips and black ass." Depressed over his experiences, Perry spirits pick up when he meets older, down-on-his-luck, artist Bruce Nugent (Robinson). Nugent was an integral, yet forgotten part of the Harlem Renaissance. He's a painter and poet filled with memories of his intense relationships with Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Wallace Thurman. Nugent takes his new friend Perry (and us) into his memory world where we see these literary lions going to parties, dishing each other and of course, having sex! Back to current day, the friendship between these men brings both to new creative heights and the audience a great story. Rodney Evans is a director to watch -- Brother to Brother is sure to be the beginning of a great career.