Bless Their Little Hearts

dir. Billy Woodberry

TIFF Cinematheque - Black History Month

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Set in the same Los Angeles community depicted in Killer of Sheep, Billy Woodberry's feature debut is both the pinnacle and endpoint of the neorealist strand within the L.A. Rebellion.

Set in the same Los Angeles community depicted in Killer of Sheep, and based on an original scenario by that film's director Charles Burnett (who also served as cinematographer), Billy Woodberry's feature debut — a devastating chronicle of a couple (Nate Hardman and Kaycee Moore) whose family is torn apart by events beyond their control — is both the pinnacle and endpoint of the neorealist strand within the L.A. Rebellion. Though Burnett, already an elder statesman and mentor to the UCLA filmmaking community at age thirty-four, was a crucial generative influence on the film, he left Woodberry free rein to develop the material by himself, and the first-time feature director delivered brilliantly. Whereas Burnett's original scenario placed more emphasis on the spiritual crisis of Hardman's Charlie Banks, Woodberry, along with his stars Hardman and Moore, further developed the domestic relationships within the film; the result is a wrenching portrait of a family struggling to stay alive in a world of rapidly vanishing prospects.

Preservation funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation and the Packard Humanities Institute.