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Available Friday, November 27 – Thursday, December 3
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Praised by The New Yorker as “a revelatory historical drama” THE KILLING FLOOR (1984) is the first feature film directed by Bill Duke and explores a little-known true story of an African American migrant in his struggle to help build an interracial union in the Chicago Stockyards. Damien Leake stars as Frank Custer, a young black sharecropper from Mississippi who lands a job on “the killing floor” of a meatpacking plant — one of tens of thousands of southern blacks who journeyed to the industrial north during World War One, hoping for more racial equality. Frank finally succeeds in bringing his wife Mattie (Alfre Woodard) and family up north, but when he decides to support the union cause, his best friends from the South, distrustful of the white-led union, turn against him. The screenplay by Obie Award-winner Leslie Lee is from an original story by producer Elsa Rassbach and is based on actual characters and events, tracing ethnic and class conflicts seething in the city’s giant slaughterhouses, when management efforts to divide the workforce fuel racial tensions that erupt in the deadly Chicago Race Riot of 1919.
Damien Leake, Alfre Woodard, Moses Gunn, Clarence Felder