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February 2007, Week 4


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James Steffen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 24 Feb 2007 14:39:53 -0500
text/plain (169 lines)
Thank you, Milestone Films, for working so hard to get this important 
film into commercial release!

I'm sure that most of you have at least heard of Burnett's KILLER OF 
SHEEP, but I want to emphasize that this is an essential purchase for 
any university media collection. The institutional DVD should be well 
worth the investment, since there are bound to be groups on campus that 
will want to show it.

I wholeheartedly agree that we should support Milestone's efforts.

Best regards,
James Steffen

James M. Steffen
Film Studies and Media Librarian
Theater Studies Subject Liaison
Marian K. Heilbrun Music and Media Library
Emory University
540 Asbury Circle
Atlanta, GA 30322-2870

Phone: (404) 727-8107
FAX: (404) 727-2257
Email: [log in to unmask]

Quoting [log in to unmask]:

> Dear Screen-L members,
> Milestone Films is delighted to announce that on the 30th anniversary of its
> completion, Charles Burnett's great African-American classic KILLER OF SHEEP
> has been beautifully restored to 35mm and is finally finding 
> commercial release
> around the world! The film was one of the first named to the Library of
> Congress's National Film Registry and was chosen as one of The A 
> List: The National
> Society of Film Critics' 100 Essential Films. We have spent the last six
> years researching and clearing the music rights to the array of songs 
> featured in
> the film's soundtrack and are very proud to introduce audiences to this
> powerful and poetic depiction of everyday working-class family life.
> ?KILLER OF SHEEP represents the highest example of contemporary black
> American life put on screen because of Burnett's integrity to view it 
> purely, without
> typical corrupted Hollywood devices.? Š- Armond White, Film Comment
> You can join our effort and bring this amazing film to your institution, and
> at the same time help us defray the sky-high cost of those music clearances.
> We are now offering KILLER OF SHEEP for institutional DVD sale to 
> cultural and
> educational institutions with public performance rights for $300. The public
> performance rights are in effect immediately in most places, in others right
> after the film plays in your local theater. Also, if you purchase the
> institutional DVD, we will automatically ship you at no cost the 
> deluxe home DVD box set
> -- including KILLER OF SHEEP, Burnett's second feature, MY BROTHER'S WEDDING
> and three of his short films -- when it comes out in the fall.
> More information can be found below and be sure to visit our website at
> and watch the trailer!
> Dennis Doros, Amy Heller, Nadja Tennstedt, Victor Vazquez
> Milestone Film & Video / PO Box 128 / Harrington Park, NJ 07640
> Phone: (800) 603-1104 or (201) 767-3117 / Fax: (201) 767-3035
> Email: [log in to unmask]      Website:
> Steven Soderbergh and Milestone Films are pleased to announce the first-ever
> popular release of Charles Burnett's critically acclaimed film KILLER 
> , restored in glorious 35mm film by the UCLA Film & Television 
> Archive.ŠDespite winning the Berlin International Film Festival 
> Critics' Award and being
> named a national treasure by the Library of Congress, the film never saw
> distribution due to problems clearing the music rights for the songs 
> featured in its
> beautiful soundtrack (Dinah Washington, Etta James, Paul Robeson, etc.). When
> it was shown at rare festival and museum screenings it was projected on old,
> damaged 16mm prints. Now, thirty years later, KILLER OF SHEEP is restored and
> available to be shown in classrooms and theaters worldwide.
> KILLER OF SHEEP premiered in February 2007 at the Berlin Film Festival and is
> opening in New York at the IFC Center March 30, at the Nuart Theatre in LA on
> April 6, at San Francisco's Castro Theatre May 18 and at the E Street Cinema
> in DC on June 1, with many more markets and bookings to come.
> If you are interested in screening KILLER OF SHEEP in 35mm or in video,
> please contact Amy Heller at 800-603-1104 or 201-767-3117 or via email at
> [log in to unmask] or at [log in to unmask]
> KILLER OF SHEEP was originally submitted as Burnett's thesis at UCLA in
> 1977.  It was made over roughly a year's worth of weekends on a 
> shoestring budget
> of under $10,000.  Shot on location with a mostly amateur cast, with much
> handheld camera work, an episodic narrative and a gritty documentary-style
> cinematography, Killer of Sheep has been compared by film critics and 
> scholars to
> Italian neorealist films like Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief 
> and Roberto
> Rossellini's Paisan. However, Burnett cites Basil Wright's Songs of 
> Ceylon and
> Night Mail and Jean Renoir's The Southerner as his main influences.
> The film examines the black Los Angeles ghetto 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. Frustrated by money
> problems, he finds respite in moments of simple beauty: the warmth of 
> a teacup
> against his cheek, slow dancing with his wife to the radio, holding 
> his daughter.
> The film offers no solutions; it merely presents life - sometimes hauntingly
> bleak, sometimes filled with transcendent joy and gentle humor.
> ?KILLER OF SHEEP is one of the most striking debuts in movie history and an
> acknowledged landmark in African-American film.? - Terrence Rafferty, GQ
> ?Like Renoir, Ozu, Altman, Leigh-like Chekov-Burnett presents his characters
> in the round, justifying themselves to themselves? What the Italian
> neorealists accomplished in the years after World War II? Burnett-a one man
> African-American New Wave-achieved with [KILLER OF SHEEP]: he gave a 
> culture, a people, a
> nation new images of themselves.? - Nelson Kim, Senses of Cinema
> ?[KILLER OF SHEEP] is formally one of the most interesting narrative films
> ever, since it suggests that poverty deprives people of a third act.  
> If it were
> an Italian film from 1953, we would have every scene memorized.? - Michael
> Tolkin
> ?The film at once recalls the episodic nature of John Cassavetes's earlier
> works, primarily Shadows and his masterpiece Faces, the plaintive allegory of
> Robert Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar and the humanist works of Jean Renoir.
> Despite these influences, the film's sad yet proud vision of black 
> life in the
> ghetto is distinctly Burnett's own.? - Ed Gonzalez, Slant
> **************************************
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