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Tonight In NYC – Screening Of “Bless Their Little Hearts” & Charles Burnett Critical Panel

Tonight In NYC - Screening Of "Bless Their Little Hearts" & Charles Burnett Critical Panel

As part of MoMA’s ongoing Charles Burnett retrospective, titled Charles Burnett: The Power to Endure, which ends on Monday, the 25th… this afternoon and tonight, if you are in New York City, instead of giving Tyler Perry your $13 for Madea’s Big Happy Family, may I suggest you instead see Billy Woodberry’s woefully under-seen 1984 feature film, Bless Their Little Hearts, which Charles Burnett wrote the screenplay for, and shot as well.

It’ll likely be your only chance to see it, if you haven’t already, because the film isn’t available on home video, though I’m not quite sure why.

It screened at the Berlin Film Festival, Toronto and New York in 1984, and really needs to be screened more often. I couldn’t even find a trailer on the web.

The film is, an LA Film Rebellion movement collaboration, in short, a pleasant, low-key, effective portrait of enduring life in South Central Los Angeles.

It screens at 4:30PM this afternoon, and I plan on being there. I’ve seen it once before, at a previous Charles Burnett retro, and I’d love to see it again. This time I’ll give it a proper review.

A couple of hours after the screening, at 8PM, you’re invited to attend a panel discussion including scholars and fellow filmmakers who will discuss Charles Burnett’s work and influence on the cinematic landscape. Amongst the names who will be on the panel, you’ll find Armond White, Professor Robert Kapsis, co-curator of the exhibition and editor of Charles Burnett: Interviews, actor Richard Brooks (who stars in Burnett’s To Sleep with Angerand The Wedding), filmmaker and Burnett collaborator Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, and Richard Pena, Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

I also plan on attending the panel. How could I not, given the subject matter and the panelists. :)

So, maybe I’ll see you there.

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Before the Dardeene Brothers, Ken Loach and the other intensely naturalistic filmmakers emerged on the scene, Charles Burnett was quietly and expertly constructing emotionally beautiful cinema.

I remember seeing the Burnett retrospective in Chicago when Pena ran the Film Center at SAIC and “Bless Thier Little Hearts” played. It is indeed a masterpiece.

Charles’s generous soul shows in his cinema. Not to be missed.

tolly devlin

When Richard Pena ran the Film Center at The Art Institute of Chicago in the late 70’s early 80’s he did aseries on New Black Fiction over the course of a few weekends in May of 1984 where he featured Burnett’s My Brothers Wedding & Woodberry’s Bless Their Little Hearts. Burnett made an appearance at the screening of his film & participated in a Q&A where he talked about his involvement in the Woodberry film as well.


An grossly underrated Auteur, i’ve seen this tucked away masterpiece @ a now defunt inner city black museum circa-1988, it move me so much myself andf others demanded another screening(memories:) anyway, i politely place this unseen classic alongside, my other all time favorite-Nothing But a Man.

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