Lackawanna Blues

Director: George C. Wolfe
Screenwriters: Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


Celebrated theatre director George C. Wolfe's infectiously energetic debut feature bursts at the seams with such a bounty of colorful characters so perfectly cast it's hard to believe that it was originally a one-man show. Certainly, much credit goes to writer/actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson's original Obie Award-winning play for conjuring such a powerful story, but that Lackawanna Blues transforms the silver screen into a stage where the camera possesses a theatrical kinesthetic and the huge, star-studded troupe sparkles and shines indicates that Wolfe's theatrical wizardry translates beautifully to film.

In segregation-era Lackawanna, New York, Rachel "Nanny" Crosby is a larger-than-life human miracle whose big and generous boarding home is a place where drifters and dreamers, eccentrics and excessives can always find a hot meal and a new start. Into this world comes Junior, a little boy Nanny takes in and raises as her own. Nanny's love and the stories from her boarders' damaged and haunted pasts irrevocably change the young boy's life.

Wolfe has crafted a simply magical film filled with so much music, dance, and sexual energy that it explodes like a musical. Lackawanna Blues is at once a coming-of-age story, a portrait of a golden age gone by, and an illumination of the fruits born from love and charity.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

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