‘Ashley Bryan’ comes to Midcoast

May 30, 2018
Ashley Bryan is the subject of a recent documentary.

Belfast — The award-winning film “I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan” (2016, USA), winner at 14 film festivals, will be screening in three Maine locations this summer. The tour begins Saturday, June 9, at 2 p.m. at the University of Maine's Hutchinson Center, 80 Belmont Ave./Route 3, during the 16th annual Festival of Art.

“I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan,” directed by Richard Kane, is a powerful documentary film whose subject is one of America’s greatest living African American poets; an illustrator and artist; named a Library Lion by the New York Public Library; a recipient of three Coretta Scott King Awards; and a 2017 Newbery Honor for his book “Freedom Over Me.”

Bryan lives on Little Cranberry Island in view of Mount Desert Island, where the local school bears his name. Born in Harlem in 1923 and drafted in his teens into an all-Black battalion in World War II, Bryan preserved his humanity through drawing and painting. Now approaching age 95, he is an award-winning poet/illustrator of 50-plus published children's books; and maker of magical puppets from discarded materials and stunning sea glass windows inspired by his African heritage. Through his work, he urges us to seek unity over division, peace over war and love over intolerance and bigotry.

Called “… a vibrant, inspiring, personal portrait of an artist who possesses the desire to help people find their inner child” by Booklist, “I Know A Man ... Ashley Bryan” is part of the Maine Masters series sponsored by the Union of Maine Visual Artists. It runs 73 minutes.

The screening in Belfast is free. Kane will introduce his film and take questions afterwards. Upcoming dates in the screening tour are: Sundays, July 1 and Aug. 19, at 3 p.m. at Great Cranberry Historical Society on Great Cranberry Island with Kane with Bryan (donations for film distribution welcomed); and Friday, Aug. 3, at 6 p.m. at the University of Southern Maine Wishcamper Center, Portland, with Kane with Bryan ($5-$10 donations for film distribution welcomed). Seating is limited for this screening, which follows opening of “The Art of Ashley Bryan” at the Portland Museum of Art.

The film is also available via Vimeo on Demand. For more information, visit ashleybryanfilms.org.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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