Black Independents, Vol. 1, February 2020

Killer of Sheep

Opens Feb 4, 2020

Charles Burnett's 1977 UCLA thesis film has long been hailed as one of the foundational independent films in American history, yet, due to neglect and rights issues concerning its soundtrack, it had only seen the light of day on ragged 16mm prints and poor video transfers. 2007 saw a new 35mm print, and in 2017, UCLA, in partnership with the Sundance Institute issued this stunning digital remaster. With its neo-realist and verité-inspired form that is equal parts Henri-Cartier Bresson and John Cassavettes, the film's influence can be felt from Jim Jarmusch to Larry Clark & Harmony Korine. As bleak as it is charming, ultimately, Burnett spins a series of hyper-photographic, existential vignettes that make up a sensitive, psychic stroll through Watts. -TR

"The message that emerges — life is difficult but lovely just the same — is as understated as it is heroic, and in a sense, applies to the man who made the film."
—Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

"At once lyrical and earthbound, tender and brutal, timeless and immediate."
—Sam Adams, Philadelphia City Paper

"Burnett is one of film's poets. His extraordinary lyric gifts and strikingly humanistic imagery are abundantly present [in Killer of Sheep]. It shouldn't be missed... A flat-out treasure, impervious to time."  
—Jay Carr, The Boston Globe