Billy Woodberry

Current Fellow

Fellow: Awarded 2017

Field of Study: Film - Video

Competition: US & Canada

Born in Dallas in 1948, Billy Woodberry is one of the founders of the L.A. Rebellion
 film movement. His first feature film, Bless Their Little Hearts (1984), is a pioneer and essential work of this movement, influenced by Italian neo-realism and the work of Third Cinema filmmakers. The film was awarded with an OCIC and Ecumenical Jury awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013.

And When I Die, I Won’t Stay Dead (2015) was the opening film of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight in 2016. The film premiered at the 53rd Viennale, Vienna International Film Festival (2015), and has been featured at festivals nationally and internationally, notably, but not limited to, the 13th Doclisboa, Documentary International Film Festival – International Competition, Lisbon (2015), 45th International Film Festival Rotterdam – Signatures, (2016), 59th San Francisco International Film Festival (2016), Courtisane Film Festival, Ghent (2016) and The Flaherty Film Seminar, New York (2016).

And When I Die, I Won’t Stay Dead, title lifted from a line in one of Kaufman’s poems, is director Billy Woodberry’s inspired, moving meditation on Kaufman’s work and legacy. A seamless marriage of director and subject, the film is not only scored by but also moves to the rhythms of jazz and is itself a kind of poetry. Fans of Woodberry’s masterful 1984 film Bless Their Little Hearts (selected for preservation in the National Film Registry) won’t be surprised at the taut intelligence and rich artfulness of And When I Die, in which the director upends many bio-doc conventions. He opens the film by dropping the viewer into Kaufman’s narrative at its boiling point – after he has already made waves and a name for himself in San Francisco’s fecund poetry scene of the mid-twentieth century.” -For CraveOnline, Ernest Hardy, 2016

His short film / documentary, Marseille Après La Guerre (2016), is a portrait of dock workers in post-WWII Marseille, many of whom were of African descent, and pays homage to Senegalese film director, Ousmane Sembéne. Marseille Après La Guerre received acclaim after its screenings at the Roy and Edna Disney Theater CalArts' Downtown Center for Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles (2016), Courtisane Film Festival, Gent (2016), and Instituto Moreira Salles, Rio de Janeiro (2016).

Woodberry’s films have been screened at the Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, Viennale, Rotterdam, the Museum 
of Modern Art (MoMA), Harvard Film Archive, Camera Austria Symposium, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou.

He has also appeared in Charles Burnett’s When It Rains (1995) and provided narration for Thom Andersen’s Red Hollywood (1996) and James Benning’s
 Four Corners (1998).

Woodberry received his MFA from UCLA in 1982 where he also taught at the School of Theater, Film and Television. Currently, he is a permanent faculty member
 of the School of Film/Video and the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts, where he has taught since 1989.

Photograph credit: Joanna Linda