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An Evening with Charles Burnett

  • Charles Burnett Portrait Dan Dennehey2

One of the most important American independent filmmakers, Charles Burnett has made a wide range of films across different forms, genres and industries that look closely at questions of gender, class and race in the United States. 

Burnett made independent titles such as Killer of Sheep (1978), a portrait of a poor family in Watts; Hollywood films like To Sleep With Anger (1990), the story of a trickster figure (Danny Glover) upsetting the life of a family in LA and The Glass Shield (1994), an unforgettable police procedural about police corruption featuring Lori Petty and Ice Cube; TV films like Selma Lord, Selma (1999), Disney’s telling of the march on Selma; and documentaries like Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property (2003) which look at different versions of the Nat Turner story throughout history (including the documentary itself!).

To Sleep With Anger would win Independent Spirit Awards for actor and screenplay, and Killer of Sheep would go on to be inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. Burnett would receive a MacArthur’s genius grant and be granted the Paul Robeson Award for achievement in cinema. His work inspired major authors and filmmakers like Barry Jenkins, Sherman Alexie, David Gordon Green, and Ava DuVernay. Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. P. Getty Foundation. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art showcased his work with a month-long retrospective.

Of his work Time has said “If Spike Lee’s films are the equivalent of rap music — urgent, explosive, profane, then Burnett’s movie is good, old urban blues”. Speaking of Killer of Sheep bell hooks as said “I thought it was awesome - that your capacity as a filmmaker to give us images that depict the complex emotional universe within a class of people, the black working class and poor”.

Please join Distinguished Lecture Series for an evening with Charles Burnett. The doors to Memorial Union's Shannon Hall will open at 7:00 PM.

Lecture is open and FREE and unticketed to both students and the public, and will end with a 30 minute Q&A.

Sign Language interpreting will be provided. If you need another accommodation to attend this event, please contact Megan Spletzer at spletzer@wisc.edu. All accommodation requests should be made no less than two weeks before the event. We will attempt to fulfill requests made after this date but cannot guarantee they will be met.

RSVP to the Facebook Event here.

In partnership with DLS, UW Cinematheque is hosting free showings of Charles's films Killer of Sheep (9/8), Bless Their Little Hearts (9/15), and To Sleep with Anger (9/22) in 4070 Vilas Hall at 7pm. More information can be found here: http://cinema.wisc.edu/series/2017/fall/charles-burnett-person#1930

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