The Polymath, Or The Life And Opinions Of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman

The Polymath, Or The Life And Opinions Of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman

USA, 2007, 75 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Arts & Literature, Biography / History, Black / African American, Documentary, Gay
Program: Documentary
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Fred Barney Taylor

Science fiction fans revere Samuel Delany as the author of visionary, often gender-bending works such as Dhalgren and the Return to Nevèryon series. Gay readers know him best for his vivid New York memoir The Motion of Light in Water, which chronicles his early twenties on the Lower East Side when he wrote five books in three years and had lots of sex in public toilets; or Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, which laments the replacement of the city’s sex emporiums with Disney stores and family-friendly theaters.
At age 64, with his walking stick and long white beard, Delany looks like an African American Santa Claus, but he’s still energetic, opinionated and highly sexually active. The filmmakers follow Delany to a literary conference, where his books are compared to Joyce and Melville, then accompany him on a cheerful, row-by-row tour of a typical porn theater. They also dig up some great footage — home movies of Delany’s middle-class Harlem childhood, a crazy art film he directed in the early ’70s — and priceless trivia, like the fact that he wrote two issues of Wonder Woman for DC Comics, in which she abandoned her superpowers and became a feminist secret agent.
Arty urban landscapes of bridges and dilapidated buildings create a meditative atmosphere, but the heart of the film is Delany himself, a fascinating gay elder statesman and a lifelong nonconformist. — K.M. SOEHNLEIN

co-presented by

Black Coalition On AIDS, SF Black LGBT Film Festival and Shanti L.I.F.E. Institute

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