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Directed by Charles Burnett

United States 1990 102 mins. In English

To Sleep with Anger, which followed director Charles Burnett’s acclaimed Killer of Sheep and My Brother’s Wedding, explores the past that many African-Americans left behind to ascend into the middle class of America. The rituals and superstitions that provided comfort and a hidden meaning to the lives of black Americans in the South are arcane in late 1980s Los Angeles. Gideon (Paul Butler) and his wife Suzie (Mary Alice) have started a new chapter in their lives and have a growing and prosperous family to show for their efforts. A menacing Harry (Danny Glover) arrives as a dark cloud over the community of Southern expats and with a wink in his eye and a silver tongue, weaves a web that ensnares the entire family. Soon, the safe haven that Gideon and Alice have worked so hard to built is under threat. A member of the L.A. Rebellion movement, a collection of black filmmakers who studied at UCLA Film School from the late 1960s to the late ’80s, Burnett’s work explores the tensions that beset African Americans no matter their station in life. “We were aiming these films to try to say something about society and how to make changes. And I found that their changes didn’t relate to anything similar to reality, at least not in my community. So, I wanted to make a film that represented that if you were living in my community, what you would see and experience. How best can we create a solution?”—Charles Burnett.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.