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6 - 8 May 2016: Close-Up on Charles Burnett

Close-Up film centre turns it attention to the film works of black American filmmaker Charles Burnett, who's films stand as milestones in the documentation of the black American experience in the 20th century.

1969 | 21 min | B/W | Digibeta

In Charles Burnett’s first student film, Several Friends, a group of eccentric and endearing young people converse in a variety of everyday settings. read more

Killer of Sheep
1977 | 81 min | B/W | 35mm

"Perhaps the most perceptive and poetic study ever made of Americans existing just above poverty, Burnett’s film revolves around Stan, a slaughterhouse worker struggling to maintain his integrity. Shot in gritty black and white, with a near-documentary technique and a cast of the director’s friends, Killer of Sheep presents an authenticity very rarely encountered in the cinema. In 1990, Burnett’s slice-of-life masterpiece was proclaimed a "national treasure" by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress." – Harvard Film Archive read more

The Horse
1973 | 14 min | Colour | Digital

Charles Burnett employs a sparse lyricism in this haunting coming-of-age tale about an African American boy tending to a horse that is to be put down. read more

My Brother's Wedding
1983 | 113 min | Colour | DCP

Laid off from his factory job, Pierce marks time working at his family’s dry cleaning store, swapping loaded jabs with his brother’s upper middle-class fiancé and hanging out with his best friend, recently released from prison. Charles Burnett fleshes out Pierce’s sense of suspension with richly observed detail, the revelation of character bound to the revelation of an African American community, itself at a crossroads. read more

To Sleep With Anger
1990 | 98 min | Colour | 35mm

"After the neorealism of Killer of Sheep and the slice-of-life tragicomedy My Brother’s Wedding, To Sleep With Anger finds Charles Burnett fashioning a kind of cinematic magic realism by infusing modern-day melodrama with elements from the trickster narratives of African American folklore and even bits of the horror film. At a time when the Great Migration of the first half of the 20th century, that had seen millions of Blacks move north and west, was starting to reverse direction, Burnett tells a tale of a mysterious figure from "back home" who unsettles a middle-class family in Los Angeles when he suddenly shows up at their door. A complex meditation on the precarious place of the Black bourgeoisie in American society, To Sleep With Anger alternately warms and chills." – David Pendleton read more