The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
Bless Their Little Hearts
1984, Billy Woodberry, USA, 86 min. With Nate Hardman, Kaycee Moore.
"This wonderful neorealist look at a working-class black family in South Central LA is worthy of being placed alongside Burnett's KILLER OF SHEEP. Passionately recommended." — Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Billy Woodberry's first (and, to date, only) dramatic feature was scripted and photographed by his colleague in the UCLA-centered "LA Rebellion" movement, Charles Burnett. Although it and KILLER OF SHEEP are individually distinctive works, together they form a powerful statement on African American manhood, labor, and family life in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles during the difficult period between the 1965 and 1992 uprisings. The film centers on Charlie Banks (Hardman), whose position as head of a lower-income family is eaten away by chronic unemployment and his own evasions of responsibility. Woodberry's supremely observant style allows revelatory insights to emerge effortlessly from everyday activities, aided by ultra-naturalistic performances that peak in a celebrated, electrifying domestic argument filmed in an unbroken ten-minute take.
Preceded by Woodberry's short film THE POCKETBOOK (1980, 13 min.), based on a short story by Langston Hughes, in which an abandoned boy's attempted purse-snatching leads to a glimpse of another kind of life. 2K DCP digital restorations from Milestone Film & Video. (MR)
Killer Of Sheep
1978, Charles Burnett, USA, 93 min. With Harry Sanders, Kaycee Moore.
"An American masterpiece, independent to the bone." — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Charles Burnett's first feature is a landmark of African American cinema. Unreleased for several years, it gradually attained classic status, winning top awards at the 1981 Berlin and Sundance Film Festivals and being chosen as one of the first twenty-five selections in the National Film Registry of culturally and artistically significant films. Filmed in beautifully gritty 16mm black-and-white with unflinching and richly detailed realism, KILLER OF SHEEP details the daily life of a Watts slaughterhouse worker and his struggle to sustain his emotional and family life in the face of grinding poverty. 2K DCP digital restoration from Milestone Film & Video. (MR)