Private Project

I Know a Man ... Ashley Bryan

"I Know a Man ... Ashley Bryan" is an antidote to the hatred, racism and division in our country. The film is about this 90+ year-old artist who celebrates the awe and wonder of childhood in us all. Ashley died February 4, 2022 at the age of 98. His life and art are being hailed across the nation in obituaries in the NY Times, Washington Post, NBC News, Publishers Weekly, NPR, many more. Born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, Ashley’s talent was nurtured by artist Romare Bearden. After high school he was told “it would be a waste to give a scholarship to a colored person.” So he applied to Cooper Union because “they don’t see you there” (in the application). Ashley was drafted out of Cooper Union at age 19 into the segregated US army and served in an all-Black battalion preserving his humanity by drawing, stowing supplies in his gas mask. Ashley lived on the remote Cranberry Islands, Maine, and had been using art his entire life to celebrate joy, mediate the darkness of war and racism, explore the mysteries of faith, and create loving community. He is a poet/illustrator of over 60 children's books most published by Simon and Schuster (Freedom Over Me written at 93, and Infinite Hope written at 95 were both reviewed in the NY Times), and makes magical puppets and sea glass windows from found objects inspired by his African heritage. The film explores his world from the time his father “was given the mop and the broom”, a reference to Gordon Parks famous photograph. He quotes Marian Anderson admonishing “to keep another down you have to hold them down, and therefore cannot … soar to the potential within you.” He spreads joy and beauty through his linocut prints exhorting “Let My People Go”. His life story and the art he makes from this wellspring of experience is an inspiration to all.

  • Richard Kane
    Truth Tellers, David Driskell: In Search of the Creative Truth, Imber's Left Hand, M.C. Richards: The Fire Within, Lois Dodd: Maine Master, Stephen Pace: Maine Master
  • Robert Shetterly
    Imbers Left Hand, J. Fred Woell: An American Vision,
  • Melody Lewis-Kane
    Truth Tellers, David Driskell: In Search of the Creative Truth, Imber's Left Hand, M.C. Richards: The Fire Within, Lois Dodd: Maine Master, Stephen Pace: Maine Master
  • Ashley Bryan
    Key Cast
    "film subject/artist/author"
  • Nikki Giovanni
    Key Cast
  • Tanya Lee Stone
    Key Cast
  • Sister Sheila Flynn
    Key Cast
  • Henry Isaacs
    Key Cast
    "painter/subject friend"
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Art Documentary, Racism, Bigotry, Found Object Art, Children's Book Author
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 13 minutes 12 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    61,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    DVC Pro HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Festival International du Film sur l'Art, Montreal
    March 23, 2019
    North American Premiere
  • Camden International Film Festival
    Camden, ME
  • Maine International FIlm Festival
    Waterville, ME
  • Provincetown Children's Film Festival
    Provincetown, MA
  • Portland Youth Film Festival
    Portland, ME
  • Emerge Film Festival
    Lewiston, ME
  • Carmel International Film Festival
    Carmel, CA
  • Hampton's DOC FEST
    Sag Harbor, NY
  • Black Harvest Film Festival
    Chicago, IL
  • Roxbury International Film Festival
    Boston, MA
  • Bronze Lens Film Festival
    Atlanta, GA
  • African Diaspora International Film Festival
  • Harlem International Film Festival
    New York, NY
  • American Library Association Annual Conference
  • Martha's Vineyard Film Society
    Martha's Vineyard, ME
  • National Association for Multicultural Education
  • Africa World Documentary Film Festival
  • Harvard Graduate School of Education
    Cambridge, MA
  • The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Distribution Information
  • Kane-Lewis Productions
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Richard Kane

Richard Kane is an New England Emmy-nominated film director. "I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan" (Long Version) screened 15 international festivals, won the Hector Leonardi Art & Inspiration Award at the Hamptons DOC FEST; screened at 20+ state library associations.. His previous documentary "Imber’s Left Hand" won four BEST FILM Awards. "David Driskell: In Search of ..." won the Shaw Prize for Best Film (Maine PBS). His film "M.C. Richards: The Fire Within" is now considered a classic. Kane won a Cine Golden Eagle for "Faces of Microcredit"; directed "Technology: Renewing the American Dream", narrated by President Clinton. His "Tough, Pretty or Smart" won Best Short Documentary at the Cork Film Festival and was short-listed for an Academy Award.

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