Esteemed Filmmaker Charles Burnett Joins Bard College Faculty
Bard College announces the appointment of esteemed filmmaker Charles Burnett as Visiting Artist in Residence in the Film and Electronic Arts Program. Charles Burnett's deeply original, poetic and socially insightful films about African American life and culture have distinguished him internationally and critically as a leading humanist filmmaker. Burnett, who joins the faculty for the spring and fall semesters of 2018, will coteach FILM 364: Personal Narratives in the spring with journalist, documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, and Visiting Artist in Residence in the Film and Electronic Arts Program Lisa Katzman.
"This course will explore the process of how to form a narrative film around personal experience," says Katzman. "An examination of Charles Burnett's films will provide a touchstone for exploring a multitude of approaches to this question, such as: autobiography, observations of one's social environment, and the use of a literary work as source material for the development of a personal narrative. We will consider how everyday experiences and overlooked interactions become the material of narrative film art."
Charles Burnett's films are internationally acclaimed for their poetic storytelling and incisive observations of class, race, and social relationships. His UCLA-thesis film Killer of Sheep, which depicts the problems confronting working class African Americans in South Central, California has been hailed by Manohla Dargis of the New York Times as "a masterpiece." The films that followed: My Brother's Wedding, To Sleep With Anger, The Glass Shield, Selma, Lord Selma, The Wedding, Nightjohn, Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property, Annihilation of Fish, and the several documentaries Burnett has directed form a body of work that many critics believe offers the richest and more expansive exploration of African American culture and history of any filmmaker of Burnett's generation.
The 2007 re-release of Burnett's first two films Killer of Sheep and My Brother's Wedding theatrically and on DVD augured a renewal of interest in Burnett's work and its discovery by a new and younger audience. In January 2008, Burnett's oeuvre was honored by the New York Film Critics Circle.
Killer of Sheep was among the first 25 films the Library of Congress deemed "deserving of preservation" when it initiated the National Film Registry in 1990. In December, the Library of Congress announced its latest selections for The National Film Registry. To Sleep with Anger, Burnett's 1990 film starring Danny Glover is among the films chosen to receive this distinguished honor.
Burnett is the recipient of many other awards and honors, including MacArthur, Rockefeller, and Guggenheim fellowships, as well as the Horton Foote Screenwriting Award. Killer of Sheep shared first prize at the Sundance Film Festival and was awarded the critic's prize at the Berlin International Film Festival. To Sleep with Anger was awarded the Special Jury Recognition prize at Sundance in 1990. In 2006, a retrospective of Burnett's films was presented at The Louvre as part of an exhibition on the theme of exile curated by Nobel-prize winning author Toni Morrison. In November 2017, Burnett received a Governors Award (an honorary Oscar) from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.