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Classic Film Series: KILLER OF SHEEP

FRIDAY 4/29/16 @ 7:15 /// KINOTECA
KILLER OF SHEEP (1978) dir. Charles Burnett /// 80 min. 

The City: Los Angeles

A landmark piece of African-American independent cinema, Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep is a powerful and thoroughly realistic portrayal of family, work, culture, and poverty in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. It eschews an overarching plot in favor of colorful vignettes that flesh out the day-to-day life of its characters. Stan (Henry G. Sanders) toils in a slaughterhouse all day, struggling with how powerless he feels in life while his wife and children face their own troubles. Burnett made the film for less than $10,000 during his time as an MFA student at UCLA; he wrote, directed, shot, and edited the film himself. Documentary-style cinematography and amateur actors give the film a lived-in, realistic feeling. The soundtrack--comprised of Etta James, Dinah Washington, Gershwin, Rachmaninov, Paul Robeson and Earth, Wind & Fire--lends an added power and beauty to the experiences of Burnett's working-class cast. 

"What [Burnett] captures above all in Killer of Sheep is the deadening ennui of hot, empty summer days, the dusty passage of time when windows and screen doors stood open, and the way the breathless day crawl past. And he pays attention to the heroic efforts of this man and wife to make a good home for their children. Poverty in the ghetto is not the guns and drugs we see on TV. It is more often like life in this movie: Good, honest, hard-working people trying to get by, keep up their hopes, love their children and get a little sleep."
--Roger Ebert


Earlier Event: April 28
Sitcom #2