First show: March 10
“Director Aaron Brookner set out to make a doc about his filmmaker uncle and, thanks to William S. Burroughs, discovered a man he never knew.” – Hollywood Reporter
As a cult filmmaker in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Howard Brookner was a rising Hollywood star. As a documentary director, he tackled subjects like the enigmatic William S. Burroughs, but Brookner’s career was cut tragically short in 1989, when he died of AIDS.
But 23 years after Brookner’s death, his nephew, Aaron Brookner, unearthed more than 300 cans of Howard’s film in Burroughs’ infamous New York residence, located in a converte d YMCA swimming-pool locker room and affectionately dubbed “The Bunker.” Not only did this footage include outtakes from Howard’s 1983 doc Burroughs: The Movie, but they offered a glimpse at Howard’s life, from rehearsing with Madonna for his first Hollywood feature to his own personal struggles with his illness.
Howard Brookner was buried on his thirty-fifth birthday in 1989. He was gay; an Ivy League graduate; broke artist; rising Hollywood star; heroin user; jet-setter; bohemian; seedy nightlife lover; director of cult docs; an honest and devoted friend – he was many things to many people. To director Aaron Brookner, he was a loving and inspirational uncle who died of AIDS when Aaron was only seven, right when Howard was on the brink of a promising filmmaking career.
Through conversations with family and close friends – including Jim Jarmusch, Tom DiCillo, Sara Driver, Hisami Kuroiwa, Brad Gooch, James Grauerholz and Robert Wilson – comes an exploration into the cultural revolution of the late 70s and early 80s, a bankrupt and sordid and bankrupt New York City, the eruption of the AIDS plague, sex, drugs, politics, and the artistic determination of a filmmaker whose life was cut short.
Featuring long-lost footage and archival photos of William Burroughs, Patti Smith, John Giorno, Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin, Paula Court, Terry Southern, Andy Warhol, Spike Lee, John Waters, Francis Bacon, Matt Dillon, Madonna, and more, Uncle Howard reveals a portrait of the tumultuous and mysterious life, struggles, and untimely death of Howard Brookner.