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Killer of Sheep

1hr 20mins
Directed by
Charles Burnett
Henry Gayle Sanders, Kaycee Moore, Charles Bracy

Through our Virtual Screening Room, you can rent films curated by the Coolidge team, while helping to support the Coolidge during this unprecedented time.

Killer of Sheep examines the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles 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 coffee cup against his cheek, slow dancing with his wife in the living room, 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 was shot on location in Watts in a series of weekends on a budget of less than $10,000, most of which was grant money. Finished in 1977 and shown sporadically, its reputation grew and grew until it won a prize at the 1981 Berlin International Film Festival.

Since then, the Library of Congress has declared it a national treasure as one of the first fifty on the National Film Registry and the National Society of Film Critics selected it as one of the "100 Essential Films" of all time.

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Plus, on Thursday, September 24, film critic Robert Daniels will lead a Coolidge Education virtual seminar all about the film. Learn more and register here.

Every film we offer will be available through the individual distributor's websites and streaming services. You'll be taken to their websites to purchase and watch the film, but a portion of your ticket will help support the Coolidge. Having technical issues? Visit our FAQ page here.

Review Text

A flat-out treasure, impervious to time!

Review Author
Jay Carr
Review Publication
Boston Globe
Review Text

An American masterpiece, independent to the bone . . .This may be Mr. Burnett's most radical truth-telling.

Review Author
Manohla Dargis
Review Publication
New York Times
Review Text

A milestone of eloquent understatement that captures the daily life of have-nots as few American movies have.

Review Author
Wesley Morris
Review Publication
Boston Globe

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