I really shouldn’t have to say anything here about this film, given how much we’ve written about since this site was born… I certainly hope most are familiar with it, even if you haven’t seen it.
Nothing But A Man – a must-see classic of not just what we call “black cinema” but cinema overall; A rare, rare gem of its time, and I’d say still very much is a rarity today, almost 50 years after it was initially released. That should not only tell you how good it is, but also how far “black cinema” has come since then – especially with regards to films that depict mature relationships between black people, as well as the daily peaks and valleys of simply living, unadorned, and what it means to be nothing but a man – especially an everyday black man in America, alive with pride.
But the film still feels very fresh today, and I think will continue to charm, as more and more discover it.
If you’ve never seen Nothing But A Man, and you live in the New York City, you should know that, from April 24th – 30st 2014, Artists Public Domain’s Cinema Conservancy will present a week-long run of Michael Roemer’s groundbreaking independent film at the Maysles Cinema, in celebration of the film’s 50th anniversary. A conversation between director Michael Roemer and writer/activist Kevin Powell, president of BK Nation, will follow the 7:30pm screening on Friday April 25th. A Q&A with director Michael Roemer and filmmaker Albert Maysles will follow the 7:30pm screening on Saturday April 26th.
The Maysles Cinema is located at 343 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY.
And for those whom this applies, you’re in for a treat, because, not only will you get to see the film for the first time, but you’ll get to do so on the big screen.
A film that was added to the National Registry in 1993, and is considered a classic and milestone cinema; a powerful depiction of black life in 1960s southern USA, the film stars Ivan Dixon in one of his earliest roles, years before he stepped behind the camera to produce and direct another seminal piece of black cinema, 1973’s The Spook Who Sat By The Door; and a young Abbey Lincoln in what was really her first starring role, and only her second feature film;. Both deliver wonderfully nuanced performances in this beautifully-shot drama.
It also features Gloria Foster and Moses Gun, early in their careers.
And then there’s that vintage Motown soundtrack, featuring Motown stars like Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, Martha and the Vandellas, The Miracles, and The Marvelettes.
Nothing But A Man was written, directed and produced by Michael Roemer and Robert Young, two Jewish filmmakers with documentary and cinema verité backgrounds, which I think comes through in the film, as you will see.
Most of it was actually shot in New Jersey and not in the south, where the story is set. However, it’s worth noting that the production team earnestly researched southern life and Jim Crow custom, reportedly staying with Black families throughout the South for an entire year before production began.
For ticket information, visit the Maysles website HERE.
Check out the recently-cut BFI trailer below: