Last month, we were thrilled to release the late filmmaker Howard Brookner’s long-awaited documentary, Burroughs: The Movie. Shot over five years, from the late 1970s to the early ’80s, the critically praised film offers an intimate glimpse into the life of legendary Beat author William S. Burroughs. The film premiered at the 1984 New York Film Festival, but its original negative disappeared after Brookner’s death from AIDS in 1989, at the age of thirty-four. In 2011, Howard Brookner’s nephew, Aaron Brookner, undertook a search for his uncle’s missing work and, in addition to uncovering a print of the documentary at MoMA, he also found a vast trove of footage in Burroughs’s apartment, a former YMCA locker room that the author called the Bunker. Brookner immediately spearheaded a restoration of the film and simultaneously began crafting his own documentary, about his personal journey to resurrect his uncle’s project and preserve his legacy.
This week, Aaron Brookner’s resulting film, Uncle Howard, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Executive produced by Jim Jarmusch (who makes an appearance in Burroughs: The Movie, working as the film’s eager young sound recordist), Brookner’s documentary brings together a number of his uncle’s collaborators and contemporaries to recount the life of a brilliant artist who passed away well before his prime. You can watch the trailer for Uncle Howard below, and if you’re at Sundance, make sure to check out the film’s screening schedule.