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Charles Burnett
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Filmmaker
    (April 13, 1944- )
    Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi
    Directed the films ‘Killer of Sheep’ (1978), ‘My Brother’s Wedding’ (1983), ‘To Sleep With Anger’ (1990), ‘The Glass Shield’ (1994), ‘The Annihilation of Fish’ (1999), and ‘Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation’ (2007)
    Directed the made-for-TV movies ‘Nightjohn’ (1996), ‘Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding’ (1998), and ‘Selma, Lord, Selma’ (1999)
    Directed an episode of Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Blues’ (2003)
    Received the Governors Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science (2017)
    He admitted that he went to college largely to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War.
    ‘Killer of Sheep’ failed to get a wide release for nearly three decades because he had not paid for the songs appearing in the film.
    ’My Brother’s Wedding’ failed to get a wide release for over two decades after a rough cut played at the New Directors/New Films festival and received mixed reviews, scaring off distributors.
    One profile of him noted, ‘On the rare occasion his work attracts any notice in the mainstream press, the article will be sure to mention how little attention his work receives in the mainstream press.’
    He received a MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius Grant.’
    ’Killer of Sheep’ and ‘To Sleep With Anger’ were chosen by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry of ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’ films.
    The Louvre held a retrospective of his work, hosted by novelist Toni Morrison.
    He has been cited as an influence by directors Barry Jenkins and Ana DuVernay.
    He said, ‘Anyone who finishes a film I take my hat off to. When an audience sees a finished film, it doesn't know the wars fought by the director to make his or her picture.’

Credit: C. Fishel


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