Killer of Sheep
Dir. Charles Burnett
On DVD 04/16/10
Killer of Sheep examines the black Los Angeles ghetto of Watts in the mid-1970s through the eyes of Stan, a sensitive dreamer who is growing detached and numb from the psychic toll of working at a slaughterhouse.
Frustrated by money problems, he finds respite in moments of simple beauty: the warmth of a coffee cup against his cheek, slow dancing with his wife in the living room, holding his daughter. The film offers no solutions; it merely presents life — sometimes hauntingly bleak, sometimes filled with transcendent joy and gentle humor.
Killer of Sheep was shot on location in Watts in a series of weekends on a budget of less than $10,000, most of which was grant money. Finished in 1977 and shown sporadically, its reputation grew and grew until it won a prize at the 1981 Berlin International Film Festival.
Since then, the Library of Congress has declared it a national treasure as one of the first fifty on the National Film Registry and the National Society of Film Critics selected it as one of the "100 Essential Films" of all time. However, due to the expense of the music rights, the film was never shown theatrically or made available on video. It has only been seen on poor quality 16mm prints at few and far between museum and festival showings.
Now, thirty years after its debut, the new 35mm print of Killer of Sheep, brilliantly restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive, is ready for its long-awaited international release.
Milestone's premiere of the restored Killer of Sheep was at the 2007 Berlinale Film Festival and the theatrical release begins in Spring of this year.
Charles Burnett (13 April 1944 - ) is an American filmmaker. Born in Vicksburg, MS, Burnett moved with his family to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles at an early age, an area that would eventually have a large impact on his life and creative output. His filmography includes Killer of Sheep, My Brother’s Wedding, and To Sleep With Anger.
"I don't think I'm capable of answering problems that have been here for many years. But I think the best I can do is present them in a way where one wants to solve these problems." — Charles Burnett
Directed by Charles Burnett Written by Charles Burnett Produced by Charles Burnett Cinematography by Charles Burnett and the residents of Watts Edited by Charles Burnett Sound by Charles Bracy
Charles Burnett's acclaimed short films, Several Friends (1969), The Horse (1973) and When It Rains (1995).
Burnett's latest short film, Quiet as Kept (2007) about a family displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Killer of Sheep commentary track with Charles Burnett and Richard Peña, Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Original and recut versions of his second feature film My Brother's Wedding.
Killer of Sheep cast reunion video by Ross Lipman.
Liner notes by Armond White.
Killer of Sheep trailer.
Catalog Number: Mile00107