Shot on location over the course of numerous weekends with a budget of less than $10,000, Killer of Sheep is among the most honored American films of all time. Written and directed by Charles Burnett in the mid-'70s while he was a student at UCLA, the film examines the daily struggles, compromises and victories of a slaughterhouse worker living with his family in the post-riot, proto-gang cityscape of Watts, Los Angeles.
It was originally screened in 1977, and steadily grew in acclaim, winning an award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1981. The film was never released theatrically or distributed on video or DVD, however, due to difficulties in securing music rights for its soundtrack. Despite its obscurity, esteem for Killer of Sheep grew so much that it was selected as one of the first 50 American works for the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.
Now in 2007, Killer of Sheep is ready for its first broad public release, thirty years after it was completed. A new 35 mm print of the film has been restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and the music rights have been cleared and the film readied for release by its distribution company Milestone Films and Steven Soderbergh.
Killer of Sheep premiered again at the 2007 Berlinale Film Festival, and will be making its U.S. debut in New York only two weeks before screening at the Wisconsin Film Festival.
A trailer for Killer of Sheep follows below.
A 94 second video clip from Killer of Sheep is also available for viewing online.
In-depth reviews and profiles of Burnett and his no-longer-lost classic are available from Doug Cummings, from Ed Gonzalez in Slant Magazine, and from Phil Hall in Film Threat. More details about the film can also be found in its Wikipedia entry and at IMDB profile. The Wisconsin Film Festival is scheduled for Thursday, April 12 through Sunday, April 15. Tickets go on sale on Saturday, March 17.