The latest installment of the Criterion Channel’s Meet the Filmmakers series, in which we invite artists to create documentary portraits of directors they admire, sets out for a stroll with an underappreciated American master: Charles Burnett, the poetic realist behind such landmark independent films as Killer of Sheep and To Sleep with Anger. In this portrait, Burnett, fresh off winning an honorary Oscar, takes another pioneering African American filmmaker—Robert Townsend, the director, star, and cowriter of the 1987 satire Hollywood Shuffle—on a personal walking tour of Watts, the South Central Los Angeles neighborhood where Burnett grew up, a place that also provides the setting for many of his most important films. For a taste of Townsend’s absorbing profile—in which Burnett opens up about his influences, his creative process, and his desire to counter problematic Hollywood representations of people of color—check out the trailer above. And head on over to the Channel to watch the whole program, presented alongside a selection of films by Burnett that’s available to stream, in one place, for the first time, including his acclaimed second feature, My Brother’s Wedding; recent Criterion Collection addition To Sleep with Anger; and several lesser-known shorts.
Questioning the American Dream in Kelly Reichardt’s Cinema
A featured director on the Criterion Channel, Reichardt talks with critic April Wolfe about how the personal emerges from the political in her collaborations with writing partner Jon Raymond.