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Rustin (Movie Screening)


Rustin does an excellent job at both educating audiences about black gay civil right activist Bayard Rustin, whilst also humanising this historical figure by closely following his personal struggles. The movie's plot closely follows Bayard Rustin as he leads the organisation of the 1963 Washington March, which in turn aided in the passing of the Civil Right Act. With the aid of several other prominent political figures and black youth, Rustin aims to bring one million black protestors together to peacefully march in Washington within eight weeks. Facing obstacles both professionally and personally at every step, Rustin must face and rise above all. Bayard Rustin however is a particularly resourceful and efficient man, and is directly involved with every decision from transportation, to food, to security. It's refreshing to see a leader lead amongst their people for a change. 


Director George. C. Wolfe makes the bold decision to place equal importance on Rustin's personal and professional life. Whilst this does occasionally divert from his organisation of the protest, it allows us a more in-depth exploration of Rustin. Using a combination of slower pacing and close shots, Rustin's pain and vulnerability are often brought to the foreground, adding a heart breaking layer to the movie that will further hook audiences. The movie's exploration of character relationships, power dynamics and homosexuality are clearly defined and provides a more layered and realistic world. Considering the lack of acknowledgement that Rustin has in relation to the Civil Rights Act, its clear that this story perspective is just as urgent and important.


The writing is strong, allowing audiences to easily follow and understand the plot and providing distinctive voices to each character. There are a number of impressive and memorable quotes to the film that particularly stood out to me, particularly "Freedom is never free" and "don't kill an impulse before it's even born.” Colman Domingo delivers a tremendously brilliant performance as Bayard Rustin, and his performance is deserving of receiving a multitude of awards this year. Domingo effortlessly brings Rustin to life and his portrayal will doubtlessly go down in the history books. Balancing the perfect mount of pride, vulnerability, love, pain, passion and frustration, every time Domingo is on the screen is a blessing to the film. Transforming wholly into Rustin, Domingo encaptures the magnitude of the man in the movie, and as a result we feel familiar with the character of Rustin


Produced by Higher Ground (a production company created by Barack and Michelle Obama), and featuring a primarily black cast, the film is a testament to the talent and importance in truthful storytelling, and speaks volumes to talent. Aml Ameen shines in his limited screen time, giving us a subtle yet equally powerful Martin Luther King Jr. Glynn Turman commands the screen as A. Philip Randolph, Chris Rock delivers a passionate performance as Roy Wilkins and CCH Pounder as the impressive Dr. Anna Hedgeman. The movie also explores Rustin's personal life and sexuality closely through his relationships with the married Elias Taylor (sensitively portrayed by Johnny Ramey) and Tom David Kahn (a particularly heart wrenching performance by Gus Halper). The movie has open conversations about homosexuality and the unfortunate consequences of this. This is abundantly clear and done well in the smaller moments of the film, his standing aside as Martin Luther King Jr addresses the crowd, or accepting that he will not be invited to official conversations at the White House. Sadly, the movie is still as relevant today.


Rustin is now streaming on Netflix.

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