Charles Burnett Headshot

Charles Burnett

Known for his portrayal of the African American experience, Charles Burnett is an independent filmmaker from the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Burnett, wrote, directed, produced, photographed, and edited his first feature film, Killer of Sheep (1977). In 1990, Burnett became the first African American recipient of the National Society of Film Critics’ best screenplay award for To Sleep with Anger (1990).

His other features include My Brother’s Wedding (1983), The Glass Shield (1994), and Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation (2007). Burnett has also made several documentaries, including America Becoming (1991) and Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property (2003) in addition to short films, such as The Horse (1973) and When It Rains (1995).

Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the J. P. Getty Foundation. The Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective of Burnett's work in 2011, and that same year, the University Press of Mississippi published the book, Charles Burnett: Interviews.