fbpx The Killing Floor | Gene Siskel Film Center
Film Series: Runs & Limited Engagements

The Killing Floor

1984, Bill Duke, USA, 118 min.
With Damien Leake, Alfre Woodard, Moses Gunn

Show Times

  • Fri, Nov 22nd 3:45pm
  • Fri, Nov 22nd 7:45pm
  • Sat, Nov 23rd 2:00pm
  • Sat, Nov 23rd 7:30pm
  • Sun, Nov 24th 4:45pm
  • Mon, Nov 25th 7:45pm
  • Tue, Nov 26th 7:45pm
  • Wed, Nov 27th 6:00pm
World Premiere! New 4K restoration! Filmmakers in person!

"One of the all-time great Chicago movies...a terrific history lesson, a compelling drama, and a lovingly recreated period piece all rolled into one."—Michael Glover Smith, White City Cinema

Produced independently with grassroots support from union organizations and members, THE KILLING FLOOR was broadcast on PBS, received critical acclaim, then virtually disappeared outside of murky VHS copies. A new 4K digital restoration brings back this powerfully authentic historical drama, with events and characters drawn from real life. Beginning in 1917, the hard-hitting narrative centers on Frank Custer (Leake), who leaves his destitute Mississippi farm for the promised land of Chicago. He gets a job in the stockyards, but he soon finds himself caught in a crossfire of bitter conflicts—labor against management, union workers against non-union workers, blacks against whites—that will explode in the infamous race riot of summer 1919. Director Duke (A RAGE IN HARLEM, DEEP COVER) draws vivid characterization against a broad canvas of the racial, ethnic, and class tensions that shook Chicago during a crucial period of turmoil and growth. New 4K DCP digital restoration. (MR)

Producer-writer Elsa Rassbach and lead actor Damien Leake are scheduled to appear on Friday (7:45 only) and Saturday (both shows); these shows will also be preceded by a brief, Skype recording with director Bill Duke.
Moderating the Q&As will be:
Friday 7:45pm: Gordon Quinn, Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films
Saturday 2pm: Sergio Mims, Black Harvest Film Festival Co-programmer and Consultant
Saturday 7:30pm: Michael Glover Smith, filmmaker (RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO), instructor, and critic/writer
On Sunday, there will be a panel discussion titled "THE KILLING FLOOR: Race, Class, and Solidarity," with writer/producer Elsa Rassbach; Keith Richardson, trade unionist and President of the American Postal Workers Union local in Chicago; and historians, moderated by Illinois Labor History Society President Larry Spivack.

Play Trailer