A Dogged Fidelity | Sojourners

A Dogged Fidelity

Harlem with a Human Twist

Cousin Bobby, a documentary about the ministry of a feisty Harlem priest, is described by award-winning PBS non-fiction film series POV (Point of View) as a "'home movie' with a difference." The difference is the story of dedication of one white cleric who works for social justice with his primarily African-American and Latino parishioners.

Cousin Bobby is director Jonathan Demme's story of reconnection with his cousin, activist Episcopal priest Robert Castle. Demme is famous for such feature films as Silence of the Lambs and Married to the Mob, but he has also offered such documentaries as Haiti: Dreams of Democracy and The Making of Sun City, as well as the Talking Heads' music video Stop Making Sense.

In Cousin Bobby, Demme captures intimate moments between himself and his cousin as they stroll the streets of Harlem and Jersey City.

Demme says this project began in response to the negative manner in which Harlem is often portrayed in the media.

"As a filmmaker, my response...was to want to contribute a little positive, humanity-based imagery to this media depiction of places like Harlem as being soul-less and deadly."

"Racism...is born into the fabric of this nation," explains Castle, whose own life was radically altered by his relationship with Black Panther leader Isaiah Rowley. "The whole attitude of approaching people of color as being inferior...it's just in the roots of this country."

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 1993
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