MoMa Presents

Charles Burnett Retrospective

by Matt Mazur

28 March 2011

 

The Museum of Modern Art presents a major retrospective of Charles Burnett, the American filmmaker who through three decades has chronicled the African American experience in over a dozen feature films and numerous shorts with actors including Danny Glover, Beau Bridges, Halle Berry, Lynn Redgrave, James Earl Jones, Ossie Davis, and Ruby Dee. “Charles Burnett: The Power to Endure”, running April 6 through 25, 2011, in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters, is a comprehensive overview of works including feature films, student shorts, and made-for-television movies all of which chronicle some aspect of the black experience in America.

Burnett, among the best under-recognized American filmmakers, has created films that deal with the particularly American problem of racism from its roots in slavery through the Civil Rights movement and beyond. Burnett will be present on April 6 through 8 to introduce his films, including the opening night screening of Killer of Sheep (1977), his first feature film, examining the Los Angeles ghetto of Watts in the mid-1970s. Charles Burnett is organized by Charles Silver, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art and Professor Robert Kapsis, Department of Sociology and Film Studies, Queens College (CUNY).

The films within this comprehensive retrospective include such noteworthy works as the dark comedy The Annihilation of Fish (1999); Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation (2007), the wide-screen epic chronicling the rise of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) leader Sam Nujoma; The Glass Shield (1994), Burnett’s first studio-produced feature film; To Sleep with Anger (2007), an examination of the dynamics of families; and Selma, Lord, Selma (1999), a Disney television movie tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement.

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