The Film

It was almost as though it had journeyed to meet him. The night was so blue.  If colors could be heard, he'd paint most wondrous tunes.  Symphonious.  Think.  The dulcet clear tone of a blue-like night.  He blew a cloud of smoke.  Soon the smoke would rise and he would clothe the silver smoke in blue smoke garments. Truly smoke is like 
— from “Smoke, Lilies and Jade” by Bruce Nugent


A man in a vest, buttoned-down shirt and tie stands behind a woman in a black dress and pearls in a 1920s-style room. 

A young man, wearing a black buttoned-down shirt and a necklace with a dark cord stares intently into the distance in front of blurry city lights. 

An older man, dressed in a loose jacket, stands with his arm on a graffiti strewn mailbox in front of boarded-up city storefronts.

“Breathtaking.... a fascinating and absorbing tale... heralds the emergence of an exciting new voice in black filmmaking.” 
							—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter

Written and directed by Rodney Evans and starring Anthony Mackie and Roger Robinson, BROTHER TO BROTHER invokes the glory days of the Harlem Renaissance through the memories of Bruce Nugent (Robinson), who co-founded the revolutionary literary journal Fire!! with legendary authors Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Wallace Thurman.

BROTHER TO BROTHER is the story of Perry (Mackie), a young black artist kicked out of his family home for being gay. Trapped between the worlds of the black community and the gay community, Perry searches for a connection in the real world. As his friend Marcus is performing his new poetry, an elderly man appears seemingly out of nowhere and begins reciting verse to them. He disappears just as quickly and elusively as he arrived. In his library research for a class project, Perry finds a book about the Harlem Renaissance and recognizes a poem—"Smoke, Lilies and Jade" by Bruce Nugent—as the same one that the man was reciting. Soon they encounter each other again at the homeless shelter where Perry works.

When Perry confronts Bruce about who he really is and begins to ask him about the Harlem Renaissance, the two men embark on a literal and metaphorical journey to the creative center for the younger, rebellious generation of the Harlem Renaissance. Although the house is now dilapidated, BROTHER TO BROTHER visits the landscape of Bruce's memories, which exposes Perry to the legacies and hardships of pioneering black authors. By witnessing the pride that Bruce and friends exuded, Perry begins to gain a stronger sense of identity.

Awarded the Special Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, the Grand Jury Award at the 2004 Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Festival and many other top festival awards, BROTHER TO BROTHER is a moving testimony to the transformative powers of history, art and storytelling.

Read Rodney Evans’ filmmaker statement >>

Read the filmmaker Q&A >>

Learn about the authors featured in BROTHER TO BROTHER >>


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