19th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival, August 2-29, is the Midwest’s largest and longest-running festival of the black experience on film and the Gene Siskel Film Center’s most vibrant annual showcase featuring provocative films that tell stories, spark lively discussions, and address issues relating to the experience from the African diaspora.
• Opening Night: A Black Harvest Feast (August 2, 6:45 pm) featuring the short films with directors in person: Ralph K. Scott’s Barbasol, Steven Caple Jr.’s A Different Tree, and Martine Jean’s The Silent Treatment. Also featured in the program will be Jonah. Chicago artist and activist Theaster Gates will receive the Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in Community Leadership with Mrs. Jordan in person to present the award. The evening’s Master of Ceremonies will beLeeAnn Trotter of NBC 5. The awards presentation and shorts program will be followed by a reception. Please note that special admission prices apply—see end of press release for details.
• Hair Affair! In Our Heads about Our Hair (August 4, 5:15 pm) looks at Black hair and its own history, politics, practical issues, and loads of emotional baggage. A Salon Pop-Up prior to the screening is planned, salons TBA, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm. Following the screening will be a panel featuring journalist and blogger Britt Julious of WBEZ 91.5, moderator, and panelists Rachel O., LaKeisha Gray-Sewell, and Dr. William Yates.
• Remembering Terry Glover… Things Never Said (August 6, 8:15 pm) finds a young poet searching for her true voice in this romantic drama that explores love, ego, and the elusive muse. Kendall Glover, Ms. Glover’s husband, will speak before the Tuesday screening and following the screening Executive Producer Steven LaBroi will appear for Q&A.
• Ernie Hudson in person! The Man in the Silo (August 9, 8:15 pm), filmed in the Chicago area, is a bold mix of horror, Hitchcock, racial themes, and experimental narratives. Joining Hudson (Soul Food) for Q&A will be director Phil Donlon, producer Steven Ordower, and co-writer Christopher Ellis.
• Date on State Night! In Search of the Black Knight (August 10, 8:15 pm) is a provocative and humorous documentary that looks at the fact that many African American professional women lament the shortage of eligible Black men. “Prince of Bronzeville” Brian Babylon, Vocalo.org/WBEZ 91.5 host and comedian, will be Master of Ceremonies, leading the post-show Q&A with director Tamarat Makonnen. Post-screening Speed Date on State hosted by “Sonny;” created by The Elizabeth Nichole Experience.
• Real Men Cook is back! Home Again (August 16, 8:30 pm) puts a human face on immigration issues with three rousing interlinked stories. Preceding the screening at 7:30 pm will be a reception in the gallery/café hosted by Real Men Cook. Valid ticket to the screening is required for entry to the reception.
• Panel Discussion! Action! The Real Deal about Filmmaking: Money, Casting, Production, and Distribution (August 24, 6:00 pm) dissects the process of making a film with a panel headed up by Black Harvest festival consultant Sergio Mims and filmmakers.
• Let’s Get Sensual at the Siskel! Four of Hearts (August 24, 8:30 pm) is a comedy-drama in which young marrieds April and Derrick discover the spark has been missing in their bedroom for quite some time until friends, new neighbors, and secret swingers Christy and Matt come into the mix. Media personality Art “Chat Daddy” Sims will be Master of Ceremonies, leading the post-show Q&A with director Eric Haywood.
• Closing Night: SOLD OUT! Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley (August 29, 6:30 pm). Breaking racial and sexual boundaries as a pioneering comic talent, the African-American stand-up comedienne Jackie “Moms” Mabley has long been an icon in the comedy world. First-time director Whoopi Goldberg explores Mabley’s legacy through recently unearthed photography, rediscovered performance footage, and the words of numerous celebrated comedians, entertainers, and historians, including Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers, Sidney Poitier, Kathy Griffin, Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. Mabley tackled topics such as gender, sex, and racism, making her one of the first triple X-rated comedians on the comedy circuit. Once billed as “The Funniest Woman in the World,” she performed on stage and in television and film up until her death in 1975. (HBO)
Other offerings in the Black Harvest Film Festival include:
Music documentaries Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn about the legendary L.A. blues club and the indomitable woman who ran it for over 50 years, and Charles Lloyd: Into Infinity, a portrait of the wide-ranging career of the jazz saxophonist. Smart sci-fi satire Destination: Planet Negro has a low-budget feel as leaders including W.E.B. DuBois and George Washington Carver hatch a secret plot to solve the “Negro Problem.” Family melodrama and political history strike sparks in Chicago native and Northwestern alumna Katherine Nero’s explosive first film For the Cause about a tightly wound lawyer who reluctantly agrees to defend her estranged father on a first-degree murder charge. Home is a powerful drama about Jack, a mental patient due to leave a mental institution but not without first facing such obstacles as money, crime, and inner demons. The first film in more than a decade by Wild Style director Charlie Ahearn, Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer explores another facet of hip hop culture through the work of pioneering Brooklyn based photographer Jamel Shabazz who captured the styles and attitudes of street life. Provocative historical drama The Retrieval is set on the fringes of the Civil War when 13-year-old Will is used by Southern slave-hunters to lure runaways back to captivity. Chamber-noir Solace concerns three separate plotlines that snap together concerning a nervous white lawyer, an intimidating Black hustler, an enigmatic bargain, an adulterous politician, his suspicious wife, a woman tied to a chair, and a hired killer.
Black History—Lost and Found: five thought-provoking films with historical themes; Black Noir: five films which take a walk on the wild side; International Visions: a mélange of movies from Sierra Leone, UK, and Trinidad and Tobago; Love African American Style: an evocative program of five films in which emotions of the heart can provoke a tender kiss or a spiteful spat; We Are Family: six films exploring how to be one with your family in good times and trying times while staying true to yourself.
For a complete list of showtimes, appearances, and events, please visit http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/blackharvest2013.
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All screenings and events are at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, located at 164 N. State St.
Tickets to each screening–unless stated otherwise–are $11/general admission, $7/students, and $6/Film Center members. All tickets may be purchased at the Film Center Box Office. Both general admission and Film Center member tickets are available through Ticketmaster, 800-982-2787, www.ticketmaster.com, and all Ticketmaster outlets. The Film Center and its box office are open 5:00 to 8:30 pm, Monday through Friday; 2:00 to 8:30 pm Saturday; and 2:00 to 5:30 pm Sunday.
Please note the following special admission prices, discounts, and offers:
Black Harvest festival passes are available at the Gene Siskel Film Center for $50 per pass (a $92 value) which includes six movies for the price of five plus a free small popcorn with each film. Passholders who purchase a Gene Siskel Film Center membership at the end of Black Harvest receive a $5 discount when they turn in their passes.
Black Harvest Opening Night tickets are $25/general admission; $20/students; $15/members. Proceeds from this screening benefit the educational programs of the Gene Siskel Film Center. No free passes, blue tickets, or Black Harvest festival passes will be valid for this screening.
Panel Discussion! Action! The Real Deal about Filmmaking: Money, Casting, Production, and Distribution (August 24) is a free-admission event.
Closing Night movie Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley (August 29) is a free-admission event and is now sold out.