Cousin Bobby (1992)

Genres - Family & Personal Relationships, Spirituality & Philosophy  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Interpersonal Relationships, Social Issues  |   Run Time - 65 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Tom Wiener

Episcopal priest Robert Castle is the subject of this documentary, whose title refers to his relation to the film's director, Jonathan Demme. Best-known for his Oscar-winning work on Silence of the Lambs (released the same year as this film), Demme is no stranger to nonfiction filmmaking, with one of the great rock concert films Stop Making Sense on his filmography. He had lost touch with his cousin for many years, so making this film was an excuse to get reacquainted. Castle was born in 1929 in Jersey City, where he was assigned to his first parish, St. John's, in 1960. As the racial makeup of his parish slowly changed from mostly white to mostly black, Castle became a lightning rod for the burgeoning civil rights movement, taking to the streets during one of the long hot summers of the mid-'60s to calm his parishioners and prevent a full-scale riot. The church hierarchy was not in tune with his activism, so he dropped out of the priesthood in the '70s and moved to Vermont to raise his family. He had trouble finding work because of his alleged connections to radical groups such as the Black Panthers, so he returned to the church, to serve as pastor of St. Mary's in Harlem. Demme shows his cousin speaking out at a neighborhood rally, leading protests to have a giant pothole at 125th Street and Broadway filled and a stoplight installed at another intersection near a school, and joining the family for a reunion at his former farm in Vermont. Castle comes off as a genuinely idealistic and committed man in this informal yet loving portrait.



activism, Black-Panthers, Civil-Rights, cousin, cross-cultural-relations, filmmaker, neighborhood, politician, priest, racism, spiritual