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Film Series : Film Center from Your Sofa

The Killing Floor

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

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"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. (MR)

Click here to view a Facebook Live Q&A for THE KILLING FLOOR with director Bill Duke + writer-producer Elsa Rassbach, moderated by Black Harvest Film Festival programmers Sergio Mims.

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