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SFS Talkies / World Cinema Series : Killer of Sheep (PG)

What Shot on location in the black Los Angeles ghetto of Watts during the 1970s, Charles Burnett’s debut feature film Killer of Sheep is one of the most acclaimed and least seen American films of the last fifty years.
When 11 December 2007 (Tuesday), 7.30pm
Where National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897
Admission Free admission for Singapore Film Society members. Please flash your SFS Membership card for entry.

Tickets for the public: $8 / $6.40 concession.
Counter Sales: Stamford Visitor Services Counter: 10am – 8pm;
Canning Visitor Services Counter: 10am – 5pm.
Online Booking: (click on Online Booking tab at the bottom of the webpage).
Ticketing Information: 6332 3659.
General Enquiries: 6332 5642.

Patrons are advised that a valid identity pass is required for all screenings.


A Programme of the National Museum Cinémathèque
Co-presented by the Singapore Film Society

World Cinema Series is a monthly screening of works by the boldest and most inventive auteurs from the history of cinema. This series charts both the significant and less discovered territories of cinema - from the early silent era to underground films, and new wave film movements around the world, by some of the greatest mavericks and artists of film.

Discover the wonders and possibilities of the art of cinema on the big screen – as it was meant to be seen – with the World Cinema Series, shown every second Tuesday of the month at the National Museum of Singapore.

Killer of Sheep
Dir: Charles Burnett
1977 / USA / 83 min / Digital Beta / PG

"A masterpiece. One of the most insightful and authentic dramas about African-American life on film. One of the finest American films, period." - Dave Kehr, International Herald Tribute

Shot on location in the black Los Angeles ghetto of Watts during the 1970s, Charles Burnett’s debut feature film Killer of Sheep is one of the most acclaimed and least seen American films of the last fifty years.

This raw and hauntingly beautiful film tells the story of Stan, a sensitive dreamer who is growing detached and numb from the psychic toll of working at a slaughterhouse, and his struggles as he tries to patch up his often strained relationship with his family. The film offers no solutions; it merely presents life - sometimes bleak, sometimes filled with transcendent joy and gentle humour.

With a mostly amateur cast (consisting of Burnett's friends and acquaintances), much handheld camera work, episodic narrative and gritty documentary-style cinematography, Killer of Sheep has been compared by film critics to Italian Neorealist films like Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief and Roberto Rossellini's Paisan.

In 1990, the Library of Congress declared it a national treasure and placed it among the first fifty films entered in the National Film Registry for its historical significance, and the National Society of Film Critics selected it as one of the ‘100 Essential Films’ of all time. However, due to the cost and complications of the film’s music rights, it was never shown theatrically or made available on video. The film has only been screened infrequently on poor quality 16mm prints at museums and festival screenings.

In 2007, UCLA Film & Television Archive restored a new 35 mm print of Killer of Sheep.

A post-screening discussion will be led by Matt Myers. Matt has produced over a dozen feature films and television movies including Henry Fool (1997), The Book of Life (1998) and Kimono (2000) by Hal Hartley. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film and Television Production from NYU Tisch School of the Arts is currently an Associate Chair at NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia.

Charles Burnett

Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on April 13, 1944, Charles Burnett moved with his family to the Watts area of Los Angeles at an early age. He describes the community as having a strong mythical connection with the South as a result of having so many Southern transplants, an atmosphere which has influenced much of his work.

Burnett first studied as an electrician but soon became bored with the idea of making it his career, and went to UCLA, where he earned his Masters of Fine Arts in Filmmaking. There, he was greatly influenced by professors Elyseo Taylor—creator of the Ethno-Communications department—and Basil Wright—the English documentarian famous for Night Mail and Songs of Ceylon. Burnett also cites Jean Renoir, Satyajit Ray, and Sidney Lumet (The Pawnbroker) as other important influences on his work.

In 1988, Burnett was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship which helped him support his young family and concentrate on his newest script. With Danny Glover parlaying his recent success in [i]Lethal Weapon, they wrangled funding for the production of Burnett's To Sleep With Anger[/i], which won the 1991 Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay for Burnett, and Best Actor for Glover.

In 1997, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival honored Burnett with a retrospective, Witnessing For Everyday Heroes, presented at New York's Walter Reade Theater of Lincoln Center.

Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. P. Getty Foundation. He is also the winner of the American Film Institute's Maya Deren Award, and one of the very few people ever to be honoured with Howard University's Paul Robeson Award for achievement in cinema. The Chicago Tribune has called him "one of America's very best filmmakers" and the New York Times named him "the nation's least-known great filmmaker and most gifted black director."

Burnett recently directed a documentary on Nat Turner and one chapter of the six-part documentary, The Blues, a production of Martin Scorsese's CPA Productions with Off-Line Entertainment. His latest feature is Nujoma: Where Others Wavered, shot in Namibia.

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