Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin


Middle 40-60% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2003 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Nancy Kates, Bennett Singer, Sam Pollard, Veronica Seiver, Rhonda Collins, Robert Shepard, B. Quincy Griffin, Mridu Chandra


This stirring documentary combines the story of a unique American life with a rich and fascinating chronicle of civil rights struggles in America in the late twentieth century. Bayard Rustin, a leader in these struggles, has long dwelt in the shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- partly by his own design, and partly through the complicity of activists, politicians, and historians. This film gives Rustin his due, particularly in mapping his strategic and moral choices whose impact on American political though is still being felt.

From his collegiate days as a music student enthralled by the ideals of Communism, to his imprisonment for role advising King on the tactics on nonviolent resistance, terminated to hold American to its promises. As a proud by pragmatic gay man, Rustin's life is also a study in self denial -- he remained essentially closeted for the sake of the movement. only to be sacrificed later by its leaders. Myriad testimonials from colleagues and friends, stirring songs of protest sung by Rustin himself, and electrifying archival footage round this inspiring and lover-over-due portrait of conscience in action.


Shannon Kelly (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.