Charles Burnett: The Power to Endure April 6–25, 2011

The Museum of Modern Art will feature the films of Charles Burnett throughout the month of April.

Burnett has long borne the dubious distinction of being, as critic Armond White observed, “the least well-known great American filmmaker.” In Charles Burnett: Interviews (University Press of Mississippi, 2011), Burnett cites the phrase “the power to endure” as a motif his films share with William Faulkner’s novels; the phrase applies equally well to the indomitable characters who inhabit Burnett’s cinema, and to Burnett’s own struggle to get his films made in accordance with his vision.

Each of Burnett’s films can be seen to chronicle some aspect of the black experience in America, offering black and white audiences alike a moving representation and triumphant appreciation of African American culture, with a strong emphasis on both the rewards and burdens of family. It should be evident from the films presented inthis retrospective that Burnett is a talent deserving of a much larger audience.

Click here for a schedule of film screenings at the MoMA.

Charles Burnett on the set of The Glass Shield. 1994.
USA. Written and directed by Charles Burnett
Organized by Charles Silver, Curator, Department of Film, and Professor Robert Kapsis, Department of Sociology and Film Studies, Queens College (CUNY). Special thanks to Charles Burnett, Cinema Libre, Milestone Films, UCLA Film & Television Archive, Carolyn Schroeder, Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, Kathy Coblentz, Paul Alan Smith, Sony Pictures, Showtime, Miramax, The Hallmark Channel, The Walt Disney Company, American Sterling, Billy Woodberry, Dennis Doros and Amy Heller, California Newsreel, Vulcan productions, ABC Films, Swank Motion Pictures, Ross Lipman, Richard Pena, Carl Lumbly, and Cotty Chubb.

The exhibition is made possible by The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art.

 

About BFC/A

The Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University was established in 1981 as the first archival repository dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available historically and culturally significant films by and about black people. The BFC/A's primary objectives are to promote scholarship on black film and to serve as an open resource for scholars, researchers, students, and the general public; to encourage creative film activity by independent black filmmakers; and to undertake and support research on the history, impact, theory, and aesthetics of black film traditions. View all posts by BFC/A

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