Kino Eye: Looking for Langston

Submitted by AWL on 3 November, 2020 - 1:37 Author: John Cunningham
Looking for Langston

Those who read Janine Booth’s excellent article (Solidarity 569) on the Harlem Renaissance should find Looking for Langston (1989) by Black-British director Isaac Julien both engaging and interesting. The key words are in the title: “Looking for…” The film explores the black gay experience using a loose parallel between a nightclub in 1920s Harlem and a similar establishment in 1980s London. It is not a biography of Langston Hughes, although the film contains footage from the 20s, along with extracts from Hughes’ poetry and work by other contemporaries, including Oscar Micheaux, the first major Black-American film director. Shot in black and white, it is a beautiful, complex film with numerous layers and, as the blurb on the BFI-issued DVD states, a “celebratory piece about artistic expression and the nature of black gay desire”.

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