Charles Burnett

Charles Burnett

Highest Rated: 100% Bless Their Little Hearts (2008)

Lowest Rated: 65% The Glass Shield (1994)

Birthday: Apr 13, 1944

Birthplace: Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA

Along with Spike Lee, Charles Burnett was among the most crucial African-American cinematic voices to emerge during the final decades of the 20th century; unlike Lee, however, Burnett earned little mainstream recognition for his work and has remained largely a non-entity even within the bounds of the black filmgoing community. Motivated to action by years of one-dimensional black stereotypes and story lines in Hollywood features, Burnett has endeavored to bring to the screen a deeply personal, realistic portrayal of contemporary African-American existence, drawing his inspiration from the work of the Italian neorealist movement. Unfortunately, consistent victimization at the hands of studios and distributors has repeatedly conspired to silence his unique voice, and while younger and less accomplished black filmmakers rose to commercial success in his wake, Burnett himself has remained at best a highly regarded cult figure throughout his career.Born in Mississippi in 1944, Burnett was raised in Los Angeles, where in the late '60s and early '70s he attended U.C.L.A.'s graduate film program alongside fellow African-American movie innovators Larry Clark, Julie Dash, Haile Gerima, and Billy Woodberry. After serving as the cinematographer on 1976's Bush Mama, Burnett made his feature debut in 1977 with the acclaimed Killer of Sheep. The victim of poor distribution, the picture never gained the widespread notice it deserved, but in 1981 it won honors at the Berlin International Film Festival, as well as what later evolved into the Sundance Film Festival, and it was also among the first works chosen for inclusion in the Library of Congress' Historic Film Registry. After winning a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1980, Burnett began work on his sophomore feature, 1983's My Brother's Wedding, but he again faced insurmountable distribution difficulties resulting in an abortive release.Upon receiving a 1988 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship grant, Burnett began work on his masterpiece, 1990's To Sleep With Anger. Though it starred box-office favorite Danny Glover, the film was screened in only 18 theaters nationally, with an advertising budget of less than 400,000 dollars. Burned again by the Hollywood system, Burnett next turned to television, where in 1991 he filmed a documentary about U.S. immigration titled America Becoming. Returning to feature films, he began reworking The Glass Shield, a long-dormant screenplay about police corruption. When American financing fell through, he received backing from the French production company CIBY 2000, but the company later forced Burnett to relinquish the final cut, and the film was also edited by American distributor Miramax prior to its 1994 release. Nightjohn, an adaptation of a Gary Paulsen novel, premiered to great acclaim on the Disney Channel in 1996. After directing two more made-for-TV features, Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding (1998) and Selma Lord Selma (1999), Burnett returned to the screen as the director of a quirky romance, The Annihilation of Fish, starring James Earl Jones and Lynn Redgrave.

Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet We Blew It Actor 2017
80% The Story Of Film: An Odyssey Actor 2011
No Score Yet America Becoming Director 2011
No Score Yet Relative Stranger Director 2009
100% Bless Their Little Hearts Screenwriter 2008
97% Killer of Sheep Producer Director Screenwriter 2007
No Score Yet Warming by the Devil's Fire Director Screenwriter 2003
No Score Yet Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property Screenwriter Director 2003
No Score Yet Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues: A Musical Journey Director 2002
67% The Annihilation of Fish Director 2000
No Score Yet Finding Buck McHenry Director 2000
No Score Yet Silence Broken: Korean Comfort Women Producer 2000
No Score Yet Selma, Lord, Selma Director 1999
No Score Yet Oprah Winfrey Presents 'The Wedding' Director 1998
100% Nightjohn Director 1996
No Score Yet When it Rains Screenwriter Director 1995
65% The Glass Shield Screenwriter 1994
87% To Sleep With Anger Director Screenwriter 1990
100% My Brother's Wedding Screenwriter Director 1984
No Score Yet The Horse Screenwriter Director 1973
No Score Yet Several Friends Screenwriter Director 1969


No Score Yet Independent Lens
Director Screenwriter 2004


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