humanist is described as a “philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes
the value and agency of human beings”, and among filmmakers, the great French
director Jean Renoir is considered to be one of the great humanist directors in
But there is another one, just as important and as talented as Renoir, and that’s the great African American independent director Charles Burnett, who has made such remarkable and groundbreaking films such as “Killer of Sheep” (which was one of the first 50 films to be selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film registry for its historical importance), “My Brother’s Wedding,”
“Nightjohn” and “To Sleep with Anger,” among others.
They are films that are not only compelling, deeply moving and profound, but films that examine African-American
life and culture with an expressiveness, intelligence and loving detail that transcends far beyond the usual stereotypes
and simplistic tropes to create and reveal full rounded human beings.
So it’s ever-so fitting and appropriate that Burnett and his works will be honored next
month, on Sunday Oct 25, when the Chicago International Film Festival will present
Burnett with their Career Achievement Award for his contributions to cinema.
Burnett, of course, will be there in person to accept the award, and will be interviewed
as well by University of Chicago professor of Cinema Studies Jacqueline
Even better is that, along with the award presentation and interview, the newly restored
print of Burnett’s 1990 film To “Sleep with Anger,” which was screened at the Venice
Film festival last month (and which I wrote about HERE) will be screened as well.
If you live
in Chicago and love cinema, you can’t afford to miss this once in a lifetime event.