The Polymath, or the Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman

World Premiere

USA | 75 MINUTES | English |


A prolific and award-winning author, Samuel R. Delany created works in numerous literary forms and genres, including science fiction (Dhalgren), memoirs of life in New York City (The Motion of Light in Water; Times Square Red, Times Square Blue) and several issues of the Wonder Woman comic book series. This portrait by accomplished experimental filmmaker Taylor is structured as a novella, with sections segmented by chapter titles. Within each section, Delany, who is also African American and gay, freely expounds upon a variety of diverse subjects, including literary metaphors, racism and violence, economic and social history, family background and his sexual escapades. Taylor counterpoints his literary subject and the novella-like structure of the film with abundant shots of cityscapes of New York and footage from Delany's family home movies, making great use of both the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River as central visual motifs. These images reflect Delany's autobiographical work, The Motion of Light in Water, in which oceans suggest the impermanence of time, and bridges suggest the transition between two shores. Acting as metaphors for Delany's entire life, which constantly defines itself in the active traversing of boundaries-between high and low art, marriage and same-sex relations, narrative and textual innovations-these concepts let us, the spectators, recast our own perceptions of the world in which we live. Screened with On the Downlow in the program Coming Out.


Directed by Fred Barney Taylor

FRED BARNEY TAYLOR's 30-year career has consisted of a combination of cultural interests, travel, filmmaking and teaching. He has made films in North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. He has developed and taught film and video programs in England and Mexico as well as New York, and has produced, directed and photographed six one- hour programs for Discovery Network's Travel Channel. Other films have appeared on PBS and have been screened at festivals in North and Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe. He has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Michigan State University; Grand Valley State Colleges; the School of Visual Arts, CUNY; and Global Village. He currently lives in New York with his wife and daughter.