Stan (Henry Gayle Sanders) is a young African-American who lives in a suburb of Los Angeles with his wife (Kaycee Moore) and kids. He works in a slaughterhouse and lives with dignity. The film shows some of the moments in Stan’s life, with his family and friends, and at work. There is nothing extraordinary about the events occurring, yet everything is presented with such naturality, that there is a poetic aura about the film. At other times, whether or not intentionally, the film seems to have a critical and almost vindictive tone about it. The children are playing in the parks, nothing more, yet the parks are rather run-down. Stan works, nothing more, yet the slaughterhouse is not the nicest place to be working. Like the sheep that he sacrifices, the Afro-American community that surrounds Stan does not have much choice if not to walk down the narrow path that society has drawn for them.
Almost impossible to watch for ages and restored by UCLA only a few years ago, Killer of Sheep is the debut feature of Charles Burnett, a young African-American director who dedicated his weekends over several years to shoot this feature. Shot in black and white and with a slightly amateur tone, the movie is considered today a cult film, a little jewel that was fortunately recovered for present-day audiences. Perhaps the critical tone of the story, which shows us a marginal Afro-American community, did not encourage its distribution for a long time. Filled with subtle details, and mundane conversations and actions, the film follows the path initiated by John Cassavetes’ Faces (1968), followed a few years later by Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise (1984). Indie to the core.
Several Friends short film will be screened beforehand
1981: Berlinale – FIPRESCI
2007: New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Special Award
Runtime: 83 min
Direction: Charles Burnett
Screenplay: Charles Burnett
Cinematography: Charles Burnett
Cast: Henry G. Sanders, Kaycee Moore, Charles Bracy