Killer of Sheep


Sunday, Nov. 6 at 1:30pm
St. Louis Public Library

SLIFF honors legendary filmmaker Charles Burnett with a Lifetime Achievement Award and screens a pair of his finest works — “Killer of Sheep” and the new restoration of “To Sleep with Anger” (see separate film listing). Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep” focuses on everyday life in black communities in a manner unseen in American cinema, combining lyrical elements with a starkly neo-realist, documentary-style approach that chronicles the unfolding story with depth and riveting simplicity. This 1978 classic examines the black Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts in the mid-1970s through the eyes of Stan, a sensitive dreamer who is growing detached and numb from the psychic toll of working at a slaughterhouse. He suffers from the emotional side effects of his bloody occupation to such a degree that his entire life unhinges. One of the first 50 films to be selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, “Killer of Sheep” was cited by the National Society of Film Critics as one of the 100 Essential Films. New York Times critic Manohla Dargis calls the film “an American masterpiece, independent to the bone.”

83 min.

Directed by

Charles Burnett

Film Category

American Indie Spotlight Archival Presentations Mean Streets: Viewing the Divided City Through the Lens of Film and Television Race in America: The Black Experience


With director Burnett, a Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, and scholar Rebecca Wanzo (Washington U. associate professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and associate director of the Center for the Humanities).

Co-presented with St. Louis Public Library

Sponsored by

Center for the Humanities at Washington University and Washington University Libraries

Presented in partnership with Missouri History Museum and The Common Reader

Mean Streets is a program of The Divided City: An Urban Humanities Initiative. With the support of the Mellon Foundation, Washington U.’s Center for the Humanities, in partnership with the College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design, is engaged in a four-year initiative called The Divided City, which addresses one of the most persistent and vexing issues in urban studies: segregation.