A new digital restoration of Charles Burnett’s To Sleep with Anger comes to the Film Society of Lincoln Center on September 9 for a weeklong exclusive engagement with Burnett in person.
Charles Burnett became known to world cinema when his 1978 UCLA thesis film, Killer of Sheep, won the Critics’ Prize at the 1981 Berlin Film Festival. His legendary reputation among cinephiles never quite segued into mainstream recognition, even though his 1990 drama To Sleep with Anger is one of the finest films about the black experience in modern America. Written and directed by Burnett, the film is novelistic in its narrative density and rich characterization. Danny Glover stars as Harry Mention, a mysterious drifter from the South who visits an old acquaintance (Paul Butler), now leading a middle-class life with his family in South Central Los Angeles. Though imbued with charm and traditional manners, Harry has a knack for mischief that creates powerful rifts throughout the family. Burnett’s overlooked masterpiece connects the past to the present in emotionally resonant ways, making this film as imaginative and insightful as his debut feature.
Winner of Sundance’s Special Jury Prize and the National Society of Film Critics’ Best Screenplay award, To Sleep with Anger played to great acclaim at the 28th New York Film Festival, and returns to the Film Society in a beautiful digital restoration created from the original negative by Sony Pictures. Burnett will appear in person for opening weekend and will also present a special screening of The Glass Shield (1994), a powerful indictment of the racist power structure of the LAPD, starring Ice Cube as a man wrongfully convicted of murder.