Miguel Pinero became a leading figure in New York's art scene during the 1970s as a poet, actor, and playwright whose vibrant, often pointed, work spoke directly to the lower classes and to disenfranchised minorities. As a founder of the influential Nuyorican Poets Cafe, his poetry soon became recognized as a forerunner to rap and hip-hop music. TV screenwriter turned director Leon Ichaso spins this impressionistic biographical look at this artist. Raised in an abusive family, Pinero (Benjamin Bratt) turns to streets for solace. Soon he is engaging in petty crime, drug dealing, and addiction. When he finds himself in Sing-Sing, he turns his experiences in prison into the play Short Eyes, which eventually garners him seven Tony awards in 1974. Uncomfortable with his new fame, he clings to his girlfriend, Sugar (Talisa Soto), and his childhood buddy, Miguel Algarin (Giancarlo Esposito), who is a literature professor and who co-founded the Nuyorican Cafe. Though Pinero makes cameos on such shows as Kojak, his art begins to suffer as he starts to succumb to his drug addictions. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival.
by Jonathan Crow synopsis