NIGHTJOHN is a sober addition to the acclaimed oeuvre of filmmaker Charles Burnett (1990's TO SLEEP WITH ANGER). Pulling no punches, Burnett and screenwriter Bill Cain unleash a despairing portrait of 19th-century American slavery while creating a hopeful folktale about the power of
Separated from her slave mother, young Sarny (Allison Jones) is raised by her mother's friend, Delie (Lorraine Toussaint), on the plantation of reprehensible Clel Waller (Beau Bridges). Promoted to the post of house slave for Mrs. Callie Waller (Kathleen York), Sarny constantly fights her defiant
streak when dealing with her masters.
Meanwhile freed-man Nightjohn (Carl...