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May 5, 2013

Charles Burnett's To Sleep With Anger

As a pendant to the “L.A. Rebellion” program, the Harvard Film Archive is pleased to present a reprise screening of Charles Burnett’s third feature film from a new print, thanks to Sony Pictures’ preservation department.

Sunday May 5 at 7pm

To Sleep With Anger

Directed by Charles Burnett. With Danny Glover, Richard Brooks, Mary Alice, Carl Lumbly
US 1990, 35mm, color, 102 min

After the neorealism of Killer of Sheep and the slice-of-life tragicomedy My Brother’s Wedding, To Sleep With Anger finds Charles Burnett fashioning a kind of cinematic magic realism by infusing modern-day melodrama with elements from the trickster narratives of African American folklore and even bits of the horror film. At a time when the Great Migration of the first half of the 20th century, that had seen millions of Blacks move north and west, was starting to reverse direction, Burnett tells a tale of a mysterious figure from "back home" who unsettles a middle-class family in Los Angeles when he suddenly shows up at their door. A complex meditation on the precarious place of the Black bourgeoisie in American society, To Sleep With Anger alternately warms and chills. — David Pendleton

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