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.
John Schlesinger’s Cinema of Failures and Outcasts
A gay man in an age when homosexuality was against the law in his native Britain, the Oscar-winning director eschewed political statements in favor of compassionate portrayals of the human condition.
The Lurid Intensity of Shock Corridor’s Long Takes
In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, now playing on the Criterion Channel, Professor Jeff Smith breaks down the audacious style of one of Samuel Fuller’s most provocative works.