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Hartford Filmmaker Pays Homage To His North End Roots In "Nani"

Aug 11, 2017

In “Nani,” filmmaker and Hartford native Christopher Brown goes back to his North End roots in his latest film. "Nani" is a slice of Hartford street life, and gets a showing this weekend at Trinity College.

Brown got his start in films reading scripts as an intern for fellow Trinity College alum Peter Goldwyn, President of Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Since then, he has worked steadily in the business, in the process forming lasting relationships with other black filmmakers. He was a production assistant on Nate Parker's 2016 film "The Birth of A Nation," and is working on Parker’s latest effort.

Spike Lee in 2012.
Credit José Cruz / Creative Commons

Brown has also formed a close alliance with filmmaker Spike Lee. Brown worked on several projects for Lee, including “Michael Jackson Bad25,” and “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.”

Lee was Brown’s film professor at NYU, where Brown recently earned his MFA in screenwriting. Brown said Lee is more than just a film director.

“He's like a beacon of light for his community,” said Brown. “People are genuinely in love with the culture that he depicts. So he has become a voice for people who don't feel like they have one.”

Like Lee, who has paid homage to his native Brooklyn is several of his films, Brown wanted to tell stories from Hartford, resulting in his latest effort.

Set in Hartford's North End, “Nani” tells the story of a young couple, Nani and Malachi, whose lives are torn apart after word gets out that Malachi might be cooperating with the police.

“I wanted to show that he wasn't a perfect kid, but he was a good kid who is just misdirected and lacked guidance,” said Brown.

Brown has plans for more stories set in Hartford, including a full-length movie that includes some of the characters in “Nani,” and a TV series about a mixed-race family living in Hartford soon after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Nani" will be screened on Saturday, August 12 at 5:00 pm at Trinity College's Cinestudio.