If you’re not at all familiar with the work of black British filmmaker Isaac Julien, here’s your chance to get familiar.
We’ve highlighted some of his films here on S&A – notably his allegorical snapshot of late 1970s London, 1991’s Young Soul Rebels, which co-starred a young Sophie Okonedo, and was awarded the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival the same year; and the poetic 1989 documentary Looking For Langston, which I just learned is available online, embedded in its full 45-minute running time below.
Julien’s films relate experiences of black and gay identity, combining both visual and performing arts elements to create powerful narratives.
He founded the Sankofa Film and Video Collective, and was a founding member of Normal Films in 1991. He was a visiting professor at the Whitney Museum of American Arts, and most recently, he’s had solo shows at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, MoCA Miami and the Kerstner Gesellschaft, Hanover.
Looking for Langston is an exploration of the life and times of late African-American poet Langston Hughes, delving into the world in which he thrived, with the Harlem Renaissance in full swing, when Hughes found his voice.
Isaac Julien fuses together a plethora of images and sounds, including archival footage, a jazz soundtrack and scripted scenes, to examine homosexuality and the black experience, producing a non-linear impressionistic work that celebrate black gay identity during the Harlem Renaissance in New York.
Watch an important work by a noteworthy artist of African descent, below: