FILM: Brooklyn Poet Lemon Andersen’s Story Premieres on PBS

“The words are deep. The emotion runs high. But, when two filmmakers, Beth Levison and Laura Brownson, showed me a documentary they made on Lemon, I was blown away by the stories behind the stories. Stylistically fresh, and with a pace that would make Brooklyn proud, this movie shows a side of a poet you rarely see.” _ Russell Simmons on GlobalGrind


Indiewire lists Lemon among 20 must-see documentaries premiering in October. The film about a three-time felon, Tony award-winning Brooklynite closed the HBO New York International Latino Film Festival in August. On Friday, this compelling true story about one man’s rise from the projects and his road back premieres on PBS’ Voces, which began in September celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

Andersen’s impeccable delivery and stage presence raised the bar, swiftly establishing the young talent as a standout in Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam, first on HBO then onto Broadway in 2002. The happily ever after ending didn’t materialize, though, once the play ended. Andersen’s brush with fame and fortune only lasted long enough to provide more material for the creative process of a man who’d served time on Rikers Island, couldn’t find steady work and struggled with the loss of his parents to drugs and AIDS. All that would eventually factor in his stunning one-man show, County of Kings: The Beautiful Struggle (produced by Spike Lee).

Lemon directors Laura Brownson and Beth Levison acknowledge they earned Andersen’s trust during a critical point. “We took Lemon to lunch and quickly learned that there was an equally gripping story unfolding in his present life – at that time he was living with his two small daughters and his wife Marilyn in the project with thirteen family members,” Brownson explains. “He was in a very tough and hopeless situation, but he told us that he had a plan to turn his luck around once and for all by writing his life story and putting it on the New York stage. As crazy as the plan sounded, we believed that he just might do it. So we followed his journey for the next three and a half tumultuous years.”

NOTE: Lemon airs Friday, Oct. 19, on PBS’ four-part Latino documentary series, Voces (check local listings for time). DVD available for purchase at Cinema Libre Store and is released VOD at iTunes, Amazon and Hulu.



Lemon the Movie:

Latino Public Broadcasting:

Q&A with Lemon Andersen (Archive: Tania Fuentez Media):


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