Bronx Gothic

2016, 91 minutes

Director: Andrew Rossi

Cast: Okwui Okpokwasili

Bronx Gothic is a portrait of writer and performer Okwui Okpokwasili as she stages a final tour for her one-woman show, Bronx Gothic.
Providing a space for audiences to engage with the political terrain of her brown
body, Okwui’s show features a multi-disciplinary display of dance, singing, drama,
and comedy, all of which find their way into the film. With intimate vérité access to
Okwui and her audiences off the stage, the film also probes Okwui’s creative
process, providing a forum for discussion of the complex social issues and personal
trauma embodied in Okwui’s work.
“Okpokwasili has always been a standout in New York’s crowded performance scene… like a latter day-day Judith Jamison, she makes whole narratives out of gestures – a back bend can intimate her irrepressible desire to take center stage and stay there. In 2014, I saw Okpokwasili in her piece, ‘Bronx Gothic,’ and the top of my head blew off… The piece is a tour de force on the order of Toni Morrison’s ‘The Bluest Eye,’ the author’s seminal text on black girlhood and power.”
– Hilton Als, The New Yorker
“A haunting, unflinching exploration of black female adolescence, this dense work mined movement, text and song… blurring the real with the imagined… BRONX GOTHIC, a new documentary by Andrew Rossi, affords the closer look that the piece deserves… illuminating the relationships in particular between daughters and mothers, that orbit her process. Ms. Okpokwasili is as riveting in offstage moments as she is in performance.”
– Siobhan Burke, The New York Times
Quotes about the performance piece, Bronx Gothic
“BRONX GOTHIC has dance elements and songs, but storytelling is its core. In language that is by turns blunt and poetic, crudely funny and incantatory, Ms. Okpokwasili conjures and probes… adolescent friendship, a jumble of insults, anger and love. And Ms. Okpokwasili is a magnetic performer. In a voice that can be confiding or terrifying and movement that can be ugly or sinuous, she holds the show together, lending her story unexpected emotional and physical contours.”
– Rachel Saltz, The New York Times
“A woman of many talents: she is an actor, a dancer, a storyteller, and a singer. No matter what she does, she is riveting.”
The New Yorker
“Friendship, trust aggression, sex – lots of sex – spill over, still white hot. Every so often, Okpokwasili breaks into a spasm-filled dance or sweet melody. It’s not always easy to follow the dreamlike logic of her thoughts, but Okpokwasili, who has worked with Ralph Lemon and Julie Taymor, makes it impossible to look away.”
– Marina Harss, The New Yorker