To Sleep with Anger

Director: Charles Burnett
Screenwriters: Charles Burnett

Institute History

  • 1990 Sundance Film Festival


To Sleep with Anger is Charles Burnett's latest drama of conflict about a contemporary black family mired down by the brooding presence of self-destruction. Full of poetic realism, and rich in folklore and history, it is a tale of the delicate relationships hanging precariously in balance within the three-generational family. Into the midst of this volatile situation comes a man whose presence disturbs the few who can see his true face.

The man is Harry Mention-charmer, trickster and fabulous storyteller. A friend from the earlier days of Gideon's life, Harry conjures up the Deep South and a dark past. Arriving unannounced with a box full of belongings, he is welcomed with open arms as family by Gideon and his wife Suzie. But Harry is not family; he is an enigmatic stranger whose folklore and mystery divide the family even further. He especially affects Gideon's two sons, Babe Brother and Junior. While the alienated Babe Brother finds a role model in Harry, junior feels him to be a frightening influence.

Set in South Central Los Angeles, To Sleep with Anger is an intense drama that unleashes a powerful, unsuspecting force with amazing dexterity and unsettling seductiveness. With a pace both delicate and controlled, Burnett creates a drama tight with the relentless sense of danger and an unexplainable feeling that there is wore lurking under its surface. Like Something Wicked This ""y Comes, this melodrama touches a chord of primordial fear that makes it absolutely riveting. A visual delight complimented by a superb cast, To Sleep with Anger is ripe with metaphors which effortlessly add to the richness of the text. This film maybe a departure from Burnett's earlier work, such as Killer of Sheep, in its refined presentation, but it is a no-less accomplished film which reaffirms his unique vision and importance as an independent filmmaker in Los Angeles.

Monday, January 22 7:00p.m.
Egyptian Theatre

Wednesday, January 24 4:00p.m.
Prospector Square Theatre

Thursday, January 25 4:00p.m.
Egyptian Theatre

Friday, January 26 1:00 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre

Saturday, January 27 7:00 p.m.
Sundance Screening Room


Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]