UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s: L.A. Rebellion - Bless Their Little Hearts (w/ Billy Woodberry in person)

35mm preservation print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive

A heart-wrenching portrait of a black Los Angeles family plagued by financial distress, Billy Woodberry’s Bless Their Little Hearts was in many ways the pinnacle and capstone of the “L.A. Rebellion,” the neorealist strand of filmmaking pioneered by Charles Burnett. Burnett, the high priest of this movement in film, furnished Woodberry with a script, shot the film, and even provided his own children as actors, paving the way for Woodberry to take the reins directing his astoundingly beautiful first feature, an overwhelmingly honest portrait of the Banks family. The film unfolds from inside the cocoon of the familial unit, with misfortunes from the outside world registering as invasions into what should be a womb-like space of respite from the violence of the everyday – the economy, the streets. The family feels like a stand-in for any number of families faced by challenges all too common, but is also handled with tender specificity – the most minute gestures of everyday domestic life beautifully rendered, bursting with the emotional complexity Burnett & Woodberry granted each of their struggling characters.

Dir. Billy Woodberry, 1983, 35mm, 80 min.

“L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema is a project by UCLA Film & Television Archive developed as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980. The original series took place at UCLA Film & Television Archive in October – December 2011, curated by Allyson Nadia Field, Jan-Christopher Horak, Shannon Kelley and Jacqueline Stewart.

The Cinefamily will present a modest selection of L.A. Rebellion titles as part of its Underground USA Series. A complete overview of the original program can be found on www.cinema.ucla.edu/la-rebellion.”

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!