Best of the Black Harvest Film Festival in the Chicago Public Library 2015

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 8 - September 3). 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 6 at 5:00 pm • Wrightwood Ashburn Branch
  • Tue, Aug 11 at 5:00 pm • Kelly Branch
  • Mon, Aug 17 at 5:30 pm • Greater Grand Crossing Branch


2014, Kevin Willmott, USA, DVD projection, 106 min.

This expertly recreated historical drama tells the story of basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain’s epochal early years at the University of Kansas. The first “big man” to be considered a great athlete, Chamberlain led the Jayhawks to the 1957 NCAA Championship Game. He also created fireworks off the court, openly dating white women and defying “Whites Only” prohibitions. With Justin Wesley, Kip Niven.

Filmmaker Kevin Willmott in person on July 6.

  • Sat, July 11 at 1:00 pm • Legler Branch
  • Mon, July 27 at 5:00 pm • Wrightwood Ashburn Branch
  • Mon, Aug 10 at 5:30 pm • Greater Grand Crossing Branch


2012, Rob Underhill, USA, DVD projection, 70 min.

There have been numerous treatments of the horrific 1955 murder in Mississippi of 14-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till, but none like this stunning dramatization in which actor-writer Mike Wiley plays all 39 roles—black, white, male, female, young, and old. Wiley’s tour-de-force defamiliarizes the material with startling effectiveness and compels us to get under the skins of all the major players in the tragic events. With Mike Wiley.

  • Mon, Aug 3 at 5:00 pm • Wrightwood Ashburn Branch
  • Sat, July 18 at 2:00 pm • Kelly Branch
  • Tue, Aug 25 at 11:30 am • Greater Grand Crossing Branch


2013, Deon H. Hayman, USA, DVD projection, 14 min.
A charming bathroom attendant at risk of losing his job due to new management teaches us that sometimes there's more to a job than just tending to the needs of customers. With Shay Roundtree, Hrach Titizian.

2013, Derrick L. Sanders, USA, DVD projection, 17 min.
Desmond, an intellectual loner in a volatile high school, has devised a plan to reveal his affections to Aasha, the class beauty. Then, in the midst of the day’s chaos, he discovers he has his own secret admirer. With Daniel Kyri, Ciera Angelia. Filmmaker Derrick L. Sanders in person on July 18 & August 25.

2014, Elizabeth Myer, USA, DVD projection, 12 min.
This is the story of an American masterpiece, the song TIME Magazine in 1999 called “the song of the century.” But even more, this is a Good Friday story, an Easter Sunday story, a deeply human story of tragedy, defiance, genius, and grace. With Rev. Dr. Frank A. Thomas and Rev. Julian DeShazier (J.Kwest).

2013, Jessica Murphy and Elissa Nadworny, USA, DVD projection, 16 min.
The Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign works to put displaced families into foreclosed homes and rebuild the communities broken down by vacant houses. Influenced by the civil disobedience of the Civil Rights Movement, their tactics don’t always align with the law.

2013, Dawn Kamoche, USA, DVD projection, 22 min.
In the late summer of 1955, Hollywood star Cynthia Beckley has everything. But when her estranged sister dies, Cynthia’s long-buried secrets threaten to reappear and destroy her perfect world forever. With Tiffany Phillips, T’Keyah Crystal Kemah.

  • Mon, July 13 at 5:00 pm • Legler Branch
  • Sat, Aug 1 at 2:00 pm • Kelly Branch


2014, James Richards, USA, DVD projection, 73 min.

Ten-year-old Bobbi resents her prospective stepfather, Teddy. After a bully grabs her bicycle, Bobbi and Teddy become reluctant partners in a search across Queens to track down the thief. This loose and lovely spin on the classic, BICYCLE THIEVES, uses sharp social observation and brief animation segments to enrich a journey whose unexpected outcome broadens the horizons of those involved. With Cinque Northern, Stormi Smith.

Filmmaker Sergio Mims in person on July 13.

  • Wed, July 29 at 5:00 pm • Legler Branch


2014, Dana Verde, USA, DVD projection, 65 min.

This romantic comedy plays out as a rousing shaggy-dog story when recently dumped Craig camps out for a day in a Harlem diner awaiting a reunion with the ex-girlfriend who may or may not show up. Flashbacks recap the highlights and low points in this star-crossed relationship, including a romantic hotel rendezvous-gone-wrong. With Alfred E. Rutherford, Serena Reeder.