From Street to Screen

Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep

Edited by Michael T. Martin and David C. Wall

Published by: Indiana University Press

290 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 48 color illus.

  • Paperback
  • 9780253049544
  • Published: December 2020


  • eBook
  • 9780253050885
  • Published: December 2020


Charles Burnett's 1977 film, Killer of Sheep is one of the towering classics of African American cinema. As a deliberate counterpoint to popular blaxploitation films of the period, it combines harsh images of the banality of everyday oppression with scenes of lyrical beauty, and depictions of stark realism with flights of comic fancy. From Street to Screen: Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep is the first book-length collection dedicated to the film and designed to introduce viewers to this still relatively unknown masterpiece. Beginning life as Burnett's master's thesis project in 1973, and shot on a budget of $10,000, Killer of Sheep immediately became a cornerstone of the burgeoning movement in African American film that came to be known variously as the LA School or LA Rebellion. By bringing together a wide variety of material, this volume covers both the politics and aesthetics of the film as well as its deeper social and contextual histories. This expansive and incisive critical companion will serve equally as the perfect starting point and standard reference for all viewers, whether they are already familiar with the film or coming to it for the first time.