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Signature image for L.A. Rebellion is a still from Ashes & Embers (1982)
November 16, 2011 - 9:48 am

Charles Burnett’s opening visuals in two of his student films, Several Friends and Killer of Sheep, are immediately captivating, but the lava-like speed of most of the scenes, the avoidance of following any story line that might actually lead to escalating conflict, and the absence of a summarized ending allows some viewers to

While the adults in the impoverished neighborhood of Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep labor and toil and steal and plot, the children play. They play in dangerous alleys and streets, they play war in urban wastelands, and they leap fearlessly from rooftop to rooftop, completely unaware of their poverty and dire situation.

In an early scene in Julie Dash’s Illusions (1983), which takes place in Hollywood in 1942, Mignon Duprée, an executive assistant, reads a telegram received by National Studios announcing the American military’s use of “Navahoe” (Navajo) code talkers for their communications during World War II; this code would become recognized histori

The closing image of Bless Their Little Hearts is intentionally left open-ended, at least according to the director, Billy Woodberry. In an interview with Black Film Review, Woodberry explains, “I think the flight into another sort of realm—the grotesque, the ironic—that he [Charles Burnett] wrote was wonderful in some ways.

“She was a large woman with a large purse that had everything in it but hammer and nails. It had a long strap, and she carried it slung across her shoulder.