Charles Burnett’s African American masterpiece, Killer of Sheep was one of the first 50 films to be selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry and was chosen by the National Society of Film Critics as one of the 100 Essential Films. But, due to music licensing problems, the film was rarely screened, and then only in ragged 16mm prints. UCLA Film & Television Archives’ dazzling 35mm restoration opened the world's eyes to one a great masterpieces of cinema.
Burnett’s films focus on everyday life in black communities in a manner rarely in American cinema — combining lyrical elements with a starkly neorealist, documentary-style approach that chronicles the unfolding story with depth and riveting simplicity.
In Killer of Sheep, Stan, employed at a slaughterhouse, is suffering from the emotional side effects of his bloody occupation to such a degree that his entire life unhinges. Burnett once said of the film, “[Stan’s] real problems lie within the family, trying to make that work and be a human being. You don’t necessarily win battles; you survive.”