Born in Mississippi and raised in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, Burnett is an independent filmmaker whose work has been praised for its portrayal of the African-American experience. He wrote, directed, produced, photographed and edited his first feature film, KILLER OF SHEEP, in 1977. His other features include MY BROTHER'S WEDDING, TO SLEEP WITH ANGER, THE GLASS SHIELD and NAMIBIA: THE STRUGGLE FOR LIBERATION. Burnett also has made several documentaries including AMERICA BECOMING and NAT TURNER: A TROUBLESOME PROPERTY and short films as THE HORSE and WHEN IT RAINS.
governors awards honorees timeline - Governors Awards Honorees Timeline
Killer of Sheep
Burnett shoots KILLER OF SHEEP as his thesis film at UCLA. “It stayed in the can because I didn’t want to graduate,” he said. “There was no place to go to find equipment as cheap.”
To Sleep With Anger
Burnett sees his widest theatrical release with TO SLEEP WITH ANGER, which receives positive reviews for its portrayal of a Los Angeles community upended by the arrival of a former neighborhood resident played by Danny Glover. “The film wins four Independent Spirit Awards (Best Director, Screenplay, Actor and Supporting Actress). The same year, KILLER OF SHEEP is selected by the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress as a work that is “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
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