Best of the Black Harvest Film Festival in the Chicago Public Library 2016

For the past 21 years, the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has presented the Black Harvest Film Festival. It is the Midwest’s largest and longest-running festival dedicated to telling stories of the black experience.

For the past four years, in partnership with the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Tribune Foundation, the Gene Siskel Film Center has selected four films to be featured in the Best of the Black Harvest Film Festival in the Chicago Public Library. This summer program will screen selected films in communities throughout Chicago in Chicago Public Library branches. Attendees will participate in film discussions after each screening, and will have a chance to receive complimentary tickets to this year’s Black Harvest Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center (which takes place August 5 - September 1). Snacks will be provided.

All library screenings are free and open to the public. Seating is first-come first-served, until capacity is reached.

For more information about the program, please contact Keisha Chavers:
Here are Chicago Public Library locations holding Best of Black Harvest Film Festival screenings:

  • Mon, July 11 at 5pm • Wrightwood Ashburn Branch
  • Wed, July 13 at 5:30pm • Greater Grand Crossing Branch


2015, Marc Silver, USA, 85 min.

Examining the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, FL, this lucid documentary draws a powerful portrait of a family’s personal tragedy and an unsettling critique of the “Stand Your Ground” laws that exist in 33 states.

Alisa Holman, aunt of Jordan Davis in person on July 11.

  • Mon, June 27 at 5pm • Greater Grand Crossing Branch
  • Tue, July 19 at 5pm • Douglass Branch
  • Mon, July 25 at 5pm • Wrightwood Ashburn Branch


2015, Ronit Bezalel, USA, 56 min.

Hailed as a public-housing triumph and demonized as an urban disaster, Cabrini Green was demolished, then repackaged as a “mixed-income” development. Bezalel celebrates the spirit of a unique community and mourns its destruction in this follow-up to her 1999 short, VOICES OF CABRINI.

Filmmaker Ronit Bezalel in person on June 27.

  • Wed, July 6 at 5pm • Legler Branch
  • Mon, July 18 at 12:30pm • Greater Grand Crossing Branch
  • Tue, July 26 at 5pm • Douglass Branch


Directors Tiara Epps & Stephanie Graham in attendance July 26.

2015, Shahari Moore and Christine List, USA, 14 min.
In delightfully sensual B LOVE, a stunning woman attracts the attention of a persistent admirer (voice by Eamonn Walker of “Chicago Fire”) on a Chicago street corner. Click here to watch the trailer!

2014, Derek Dow, USA, 22 min.
Derek Dow talks about the importance of sneakers in his life.

2015, Stephanie Graham, USA, 11 min.
Stephanie Graham’s wincingly accurate short collects true stories about what you hear when you’re the only Black person in the room.

2013, Tiara Epps, USA, 12 min.
In Tiara Epps’ inspiring short, a spectacular young acrobatics team vaults from inner city to "America’s Got Talent."

2015, Martisse Hill, USA, 17 min.
Inviting a girl to the prom calls for stamina.

2015, Kirby Ashley, USA, 32 min.
The history of chess is given a fascinating Black spin.

  • Wed, July 20 at 5pm • Legler Branch
  • Thu, July 21 at 2pm • Douglass Branch


2015 Derek Grace, USA, 60 min.

This lively documentary explores a remarkable tradition at Spencer Technology Academy in Chicago’s crime-ridden Austin neighborhood. Every May, defying the low expectations held for them, teachers and students participate in a spirited competition in which homeroom “adopts” a college.

Filmmaker Derek Grace in person on July 20.

  • Sat, July 23 at 2pm • Wrightwood Ashburn Branch
  • Wed, July 27 at 5:00 pm • Legler Branch


2014, Jamie Bernstein, USA, 85 min.

Conductor José Antonio Abreu’s El Sistema music education program created 40 years ago in Venezuela has transformed the lives of disadvantaged children around the globe. CRESCENDO! follows two El Sistema-inspired programs—one in Philadelphia, the other in Harlem—focusing on three vividly drawn children whose talents don’t necessarily remove their problems.