with Henry G. Sanders, Kaycee Moore, Charles Bracy

Thursday, January 18, 7pm – Free

Combining social realism and African-American music history, Killer of Sheep is a rare work.
The U.S. Library of Congress declared it a “national treasure” and listed it among the top 50 films on the National Film Registry. It was also named by the National Society of Film Critics as one of the “100 Essential Films” in film history. In 1981, it won an award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Filmed in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, it brings a historical and artistic perspective to Dana Lixenberg’s exhibition, Imperial Courts.

Born on April 13, 1944 in Wicksburg, Mississippi, Charles Burnett grew up in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. He began studying to become an electrician but was soon drawn to directing and photography. He studied at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Drama, Film and Television and directed his first feature film, Killer of Sheep, between 1972 and 1975 while still a student. He managed to raise a modest budget of about $10,000 and submitted it for the final exam of his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1977. The film was shot entirely in the Watts ghetto with non-professional actors that Burnett met by chance in his neighborhood or that he recruited among his friends.

Killer of Sheep is a dive into the world of Stan, a slaughterhouse worker whose alienating job gradually distances him from his family and his community. His aesthetic has earned him comparisons to some of cinema’s major figures, such as Rossellini, for his elliptical neo-realist narration, or Kubrick, for the narrative importance of music in the film. Because he did not suspect that Killer of Sheep would be of interest outside of the academic world, Burnett ignored the administrative imperatives inherent in the rights to broadcast the soundtrack, thereby limiting the film’s commercial distribution.

It was only in 2007, in the face of unanimous approval from the film community, that the situation was regularized and the film was more widely screened.

Free of charge, upon reservation
02 35 89 36 96 or

Photogram : extract from Killer of Sheep, Charles Burnett, 1977