Charles Burnett
Filmmaker and Screenwriter
Los Angeles, CA
2009 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by Eli and Edythe Broad / The Broad Art Foundation.

Charles Burnett is a screenwriter and director whom The New York Times dubbed, “the nation’s least-known great filmmaker and most gifted black director.” He received an MFA from UCLA. His senior thesis film, Killer of Sheep (1977), won the Critics Prize at the Berlin Film Festival, first place at Sundance and was one of among the first 50 films on the National Film Registry. Burnett subsequently made other deeply human films about middle-class African Americans devoid of the usual Hollywood clichés and stereotypes. His 1990 film, To Sleep with Anger, won numerous awards, including for best screenplay from the National Society of Film Critics, a first for an African American. Burnett has also worked in television. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1990.

Portrait photo courtesy the artist.
  • Artwork by Charles Burnett
    Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation, 2007; photo courtesy the artist
Artwork by Charles Burnett