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Film: Looking for Langston

  • Stony Island Arts Bank 6760 South Stony Island Avenue Chicago, IL, 60649 United States (map)

Award-winning British filmmaker Isaac Julien`s LOOKING FOR LANGSTON is both critically acclaimed and controversial. The film is a lyrical and poetic consideration of the life of revered Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. Isaac Julien invokes Hughes as a black gay cultural icon, against an impressionistic, atmospheric setting that parallels a Harlem speakeasy of the 1920s with a 1980s London underground nightclub. Extracts from Hughes poetry are interwoven with the work of cultural figures from the 1920s and beyond, including Essex Humphill, Bruce Nugent, and Robert Mapplethorpe, constructing a lyrical and multilayered narrative. Julien explores the ambiguous sexual subtexts of the period of rich artistic expression, and the enduring cultural significance of the pioneer s work. Shot in sumptuous monochrome, the film combines archival footage with the newly staged set pieces, fantasy sequences, and an imagined love story. The result is a beautiful and ultimately celebratory piece about artistic expression and the nature of desire.

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