________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2006


Brother 2 Brother.

Russell Wyse (Writer & Director). Annette Clarke (Producer). Kent Martin (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2004.
42 min., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: C9104 238.

Subject Headings:
Brothers Reaching Out Society.
Black Canadians-Nova Scotia-Social Conditions.
Blacks-Nova Scotia-Social Conditions.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

*** /4

The National Film Board has long provided us with films of social significance. Nova Scotia 's urban black community is the focus of this production, an exploration of the attitudes of young men of colour and their views on what the future holds for them.

     There are two storylines interwoven here. The first comprises scenes of a retreat for teenage members of the community where they can discuss concepts of leadership and what constitutes positive self-image. Adult males in the Brothers Reaching Out Society (BROS) act as mentors in sessions on anger management, addictions, and the search for alternatives. It is hard work for the leaders to evoke a response from participants, but, when the group gets going in a drumming workshop, the excitement and the opening of minds to possibilities is palpable.

     The second thread of the film is the story of Corey Lucas, a 21-year-old who has come through a teenage life of drug dealing and feeling that success is marked by how much money you have in your pocket and how much gold you have around your neck. Now he is using his initiative in more productive ways and is on his way to becoming a mentor himself.

     Corey's family members feature in vignettes about early struggles with poverty, family breakup, the birth of Corey's own son, and how being a father have given him a new outlook on what life should be about for him and his girlfriend, Tanya. Corey says: "I still talk to my [old] friends now, but I don't hang as much. The boys'll consider you being on lockdown if your girl keeps you in the home, like sayin' 'You ain't allowed out.' At the beginning, yeah, I was getting' clowned, everybody like "Yo, you a house man, you ain't allowed out.' Just that I have respect for my girlfriend, and I have the love for my child. I'd rather be in the house than just goin' drinkin' and hangin' out."

     Interactions between Corey and three-year-old Tylus will make viewers hopeful about the mentorship initiative. These are in sharp contrast to the opening scene of the director's own girlfriends' half-brother. Fifteen-year-old Bradley is working hard on his street cred by writing violent rap lyrics and showing the small sword he carries concealed in his baggy clothing because he has "too many enemies."

     The film's narrator and director, Russell Wyse, is, himself, a member of Brothers Reaching Out and an organizer of the retreat. The movie is well produced and realistic and has managed to catch many of its subjects, especially Corey, at vulnerable and honest moments.

     The message is for all ages, but, because of some of the language and incidents described, it is best suited for high-school viewers. It should make a great discussion starter in a classroom or a counseling setting.


Ellen Heaney is head of Children's Services at the New Westminster Public Library in New Westminster, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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