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Bless Their Little Hearts

A crucial film about inner-city life and the difficulty of modern Black experience in a capitalist climate which is extremely harsh on the working poor in general, but particularly on African-Americans, Billy Woodberry’s first feature concerns the Banks family, with patriarch Charlie (Nate Hardman) out of work and desperately looking, while his wife Andais (Kaycee Moore) keeps the household together. Woodberry’s UCLA colleague Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, To Sleep with Anger) both wrote the screenplay and provided the glorious black-and-white 16mm cinematography, and as a result of their collaboration, Bless Their Little Hearts is a landmark of Black cinema and one of the finest films of the 1980s. “I came to believe and accept that if you want to talk about politics in film, at least for me, it was not so interesting to be so direct. My concern and Charles [Burnett’s] concern was to speak about these people and their relationship to the world. Their problems are in many ways the defining ones—the massive unemployment, the difficulty of male-female relationships—which seem to be universal—the maintenance of the family. These are big problems. But they aren’t unique to black people.”—Billy Woodberry.

Preceded by Billy Woodberry’s short film The Pocketbook (1980, 13 mins.).

Genres: Drama