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Uncle Howard

Uncle Howard Uncle Howard
“An indelible, must-see ode to gay New York.”
— Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“Refreshing...lovely...The doc’s beautiful final sequence rips your heart out.”
— David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“…assured…a fond tribute”
— Dennis Harvey, Variety

Official Website:

Social Media
Twitter: (@UncleHowardFilm)
Instagram: (@UncleHowardFilm)

The Film Collaborative – Festivals:
Jeffrey Winter – Co-Executive Director
137 N. Larchmont Blvd., #606 Los Angeles,
CA 90004 |TEL NUMBER: (323) 207-8321

Upside Distribution - International Sales:
Melina Mattio – International Sales Assistant
Landline: +33(0)1 58 47 95 76

ICM Partners - North American Sales:
Peter Van Steemburg
ICM Partners
10250 Constellation Blvd,
9th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90067
Office: 310.550.4396

Uncle Howard is an intertwining tale of past and present. New York filmmaker Howard Brookner died of AIDS in 1989, while making his breakthrough Hollywood movie. His body of work, which captured the late 70s and early 80s cultural revolution, was buried in William S. Burroughs’ bunker for 30 years. Now in a personal journey, his nephew Aaron unearths Howard's filmmaking legacy and the memory of everything he was.


Howard Brookner was buried on his thirty-fifth birthday in 1989. He was gay; an Ivy League graduate; broke artist; rising Hollywood star; heroin user; jet-setter; bohemian; seedy nightlife lover; director of cult docs; an honest and devoted friend – he was many things to many people. To director Aaron Brookner, he was a loving and inspirational uncle who died of AIDS when Aaron was only seven, right when Howard was on the brink of a promising filmmaking career.

William S. Burroughs wrote: “Immortality is the only goal worth striving for,” evoking the Egyptian concept that death is not the end of human existence but a necessary transition to immortality, achieved when one’s spirit could be freed from its tomb. Howard’s relationship with the famed writer marked his gateway to artistic and personal freedom.

Twenty-three years after his death, Howard’s work and memory are fading. But Aaron finds the clues to the many sides of his uncle’s story in a modern day tomb, in Burroughs’ New York City bunker. Inside, more than 300 cans offer a glimpse at Howard’s life and career, including outtakes from his 1983 debut film Burroughs: The Movie, the first and most revealing film about the iconic writer. Howard’s video diaries documenting his illness and personal feelings, photographs, rehearsal videos from his Hollywood feature with Madonna, buried letters, and extensive documentation from the mid-80s until his death all become Aaron’s guides to piecing together a Rashomon-like existence to fulfill his uncle’s dying wish not to be forgotten.

Through conversations with family and close friends – including Jim Jarmusch, Tom DiCillo, Sara Driver, Hisami Kuroiwa, Brad Gooch, James Grauerholz and Robert Wilson – comes an exploration into the cultural revolution of the late 70s and early 80s, a bankrupt and sordid and bankrupt New York City, the eruption of the AIDS plague, sex, drugs, politics, and the artistic determination of a filmmaker whose life was cut short.

Featuring long-lost footage and archival photos of William Burroughs, Patti Smith, John Giorno, Allen Ginsberg, Brion Gysin, Paula Court, Terry Southern, Andy Warhol, Spike Lee, John Waters, Francis Bacon, Matt Dillon, Madonna, and more, Uncle Howard reveals a portrait of the tumultuous and mysterious life, struggles, and untimely death of Howard Brookner.

Play Trailer
96 minutes

Aaron Brookner

Aaron Brookner

Allen Ginsberg

Andy Warhol

Anne Waldman

Brad Gooch

Brion Gysin

Darryl Pinckney

Elaine Brookner

Frank Zappa

Frederic Mitterrand

Hisami Kuroiwa

Howard Brookner

Jackie Curtis

James Grauerholz

Jennifer Grey

Jim Jarmusch

John Cage

John Giorno

Julia Heyward

Kim Massee

Laurie Anderson

Lindsay Law

Lucien Carr


Matt Dillon

Max Farber

Melody London

Merce Cunningham

Mortimer Burroughs

Otto Belue

Patti Smith

Paula Court

Peter Orlovsky

Philip Glass

Randy Quaid

Richard Shone

Rick Little

Robert Wilson

Rutger Hauer

Sara Driver

Sarah Farber

Steven Lowe

Stewart Meyer

Terry Southern

Tom DiCillo

Victor Bockris

William S Burroughs

Paula Vaccaro

Executive Producer:
Jim Jarmusch

Production Year