The Killing Floor
Directed by Bill Duke • 1984 • United States
Starring Damien Leake, Alfre Woodard, Moses Gunn
Originally broadcast on PBS’s “American Playhouse” in 1984, the stirring first feature from actor and filmmaker Bill Duke explores the little-known story of an African American migrant’s struggle to build an interracial union in the Chicago Stockyards. Based on actual characters and events, the screenplay by Leslie Lee, from a story by producer Elsa Rassbach, follows the journey of Frank Custer (Damien Leake), a young Black sharecropper from Mississippi who, in the aftermath of World War I, travels to Chicago for a job on the “killing floor” of a meatpacking plant and the promise of greater racial equality in the industrial North. There, he must navigate the seething ethnic and class conflicts—stoked by management and culminating in the Chicago race riot of 1919—as he attempts to unite his fellow workers in a fight for fair treatment.
Up Next in American Independents
Directed by Shu Lea Cheang • 1994 • United States
Starring Sarita Choudhury, Erin McMurtry, Abraham Lim
Taiwanese-born new-media visionary Shu Lea Cheang directs this avant-anarcho ecosatire, in which a lesbian couple living on Staten Island find themselves ensnared in a vast conspiracy involvin...
Directed by Lodge Kerrigan • 1994 • United States
Starring Peter Greene, Robert Albert, Megan Owen
Lodge Kerrigan began his succession of utterly unique, visually and aurally dazzling character studies with the raw, ravaging CLEAN, SHAVEN. A compelling headfirst dive into the mindscape of a schi...
Directed by Ephraim Asili • 2020 • United States
After nearly a decade exploring different facets of the African diaspora—and his own place within it—Ephraim Asili makes his feature-length debut with this astonishing ensemble work set almost entirely within a West Philadelphia house inhabited by...