Black Harvest Film Festival 2018
August 4 - 30, 2018
Coming in August: the 2018 Black Harvest Film Festival, the Gene Siskel Film Center's annual showcase for independent films that tell the stories and explore the images, heritage, and history of the worldwide Black experience.
Tickets available at our box office starting July 20.
Download a PDF of the festival schedule — full details coming to this page soon!
From August 4 through 30, the Gene Siskel Film Center welcomes one and all to our 24th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival, a month-long celebration of the stories, dreams, history, and legacy of African Americans and the African diaspora, as interpreted by independent filmmakers from around the U.S. and abroad. Filmmaker appearances are the pride and joy of Black Harvest, so join us for the festival's many enlightening post-film discussions with directors, producers, writers, and cast members. Cheer on filmmakers in the early stages of promising careers and savor the insights of those with a seasoned perspective.
The festival opens on Saturday, August 4, with the shorts program A Black Harvest Feast. LeeAnn Trotter of NBC 5 Chicago hosts a show that includes presentation of the Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in Community Leadership to Pemon Rami and Maséqua Myers. Immediately after the show, the audience is invited to a reception across the street at the Joffrey Tower.
Our closing night on Thursday, August 30, celebrates the 25th anniversary of Rusty Cundieff's savvy rap satire FEAR OF A BLACK HAT, screening in a rare 35mm print. Multi-talented director/writer/actor Cundieff (director of the upcoming Universal release TALES FROM THE HOOD 2) will be present for audience discussion. Filmmaker recipients of the 2019 production grants for the Black Harvest 25th Anniversary Project will be announced at this show.
More than thirty filmmakers are scheduled to be present for discussion at screenings throughout the festival, with additional pending. Special events include a personal appearance by former talk show host Dick Cavett, discussing his 53-year friendship with Muhammad Ali with director Robert S. Bader, at the Sunday, August 5 screening of ALI & CAVETT: THE TALE OF THE TAPES. A special advance screening of David Schalliol's THE AREA (returning to the Film Center for a run September 14-20) provides a searing look at a community's valiant struggle against a railroad's land grab in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood.
Features shot in Chicago also include Logan Hall's sci-fi inflected drama ANIMATOR and Lawrence Lee Wallace's revenge satire PIECES OF DAVID. Documentaries include CHI-TOWN, an exhilarating saga of basketball ambition by Nick Budabin. Pamela Sherrod Anderson's THE G FORCE, explores the phenomenon of grandparents challenged to become parents to their grandchildren. David Weathersby's THE COLOR OF ART covers a range of issues surrounding inclusion for artists of color in the Chicago art scene; the screening will include a panel representing artists, collectors, and gallery personnel.
2018 marks the inaugural endowed Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Black Harvest Film Festival Prize. The prize will be awarded annually to a director of a Black Harvest Film Festival short film, chosen by a prestigious jury. All films in the festival are eligible for the Black Harvest Audience Award; ballots available in our lobby. Be sure to regularly check back for added appearances and special events.
— Barbara Scharres, Director of Programming
The Black Harvest Film Festival is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts; the Illinois Arts Council Agency; and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Special thanks to festival consultant Sergio Mims, our Black Harvest Community Council, and to the many filmmakers who help make this festival possible.
Purchase a Black Harvest festival pass!
Black Harvest Presents GET OUT at the Millennium Park Summer Film Series
BEST OF BLACK HARVEST IN THE CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY
Panel: Action! The Real Deal About Filmmaking
- Sat, Aug 25th 5:30pm
Our Black Harvest panel discussion annually debates issues relating to black filmmaking. Festival consultant Sergio Mims heads up a panel of filmmakers featured in this year's festival, including: directors Lawrence Lee Wallace (PIECES OF DAVID) and David Weathersby (THE COLOR OF ART); and producer/writer Roberta Jones (ANIMATOR). Check this page for updates. The audience is invited to participate in this provocative forum.
Free admission. Tickets available at the box office only. Seats available on a first come, first served basis.
Opening Night Celebration: A Black Harvest Feast
2018, Various directors, USA, 70 min.
- Sat, Aug 4th 7:00pm
Join Master of Ceremonies LeeAnn Trotter of NBC 5 Chicago for the opening night celebration. This year's Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in Community Leadership will be presented to Pemon Rami, filmmaker and former Director of Education and Public Programs for the DuSable Museum of African American History; and Maséqua Myers, curator, teacher, and Executive Director of the South Side Community Arts Center. Immediately following the show A Black Harvest Feast, the audience is invited to join our celebrity guests for a reception at Joffrey Tower (10 E. Randolph St.), home of the Joffrey Ballet Chicago.
This year's "harvest" merits a celebration; enjoy a sneak preview of the festival's bountiful creativity through these four short films: Sanicole's Chicago-set father-daughter drama TRAINING WHEELS (2018, 15 min.); Derek Dow's Juneteenth relationship showdown SHOTGUN WEDDING (2018, 19 min.); Praheme's comic chronicle of a hookup with staying power STUCK (2018, 17 min.); and Shayla Racquel's evocative drama RIVERMENT (2018, 19 min.), in which family activism comes full circle. (BS, MR)
Saturday 8/4: Filmmakers Sanicole, Derek Dow, Praheme, and (tentative) Shayla Racquel are scheduled to be present.
Special admission prices for this program (includes reception): General Admission $25; Students $20; Members $15. 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.
2018, Sanicole, USA, 15 min.
A father needs to prove himself when his little girl's bike is stolen. (MR)
2018, Derek Dow, USA, 19 min. With Lina Green, Thomas Hobson.
Juneteenth becomes a day of showdown for a couple reaching a critical turning point in their relationship. (BS)
2018, Praheme, USA, 17 min. With Javicia Leslie, Hari Williams.
A comically impulsive hookup turns out to have staying power for the surprised lovers. (BS)
2018, Shayla Racquel, USA, 19 min. With Diane Powell, Nicolette Ali Wright.
A family's tradition of activism comes full circle, but not without triggering fears on the part of the older generation. (BS)
Ali & Cavett: The Tale Of The Tapes
2018, Robert S. Bader, USA, 95 min.
- Sun, Aug 5th 5:00pm
- Mon, Aug 6th 8:00pm
"There was a time in my life when I felt that Muhammad Ali was my best friend. I don't mean a worshipped-from-afar friend, but a worshipped-from-'anear' one." - Dick Cavett
A close friendship of 53 years between champion fighter Muhammad Ali, aka The Greatest, and talk show host Dick Cavett is detailed in this warm, revealing documentary that resonates with their frank discussions ranging from Ali's fights with Liston, Frazier, and Foreman, to incendiary issues including race, religion, and war - topics that remain as current as they were in the course of Ali's 1969-75 Dick Cavett Show appearances. Extended archival clips from the show form the core of ALI & CAVETT, and create a touching and affectionate portrait, enhanced by additional interviews with figures including the Rev. Al Sharpton, Ilyasah Shabazz, Clarence Taylor, Juan Williams, biographer Thomas Hauser, and more. DCP digital. (BS) FF
Sunday 8/5: Director Robert S. Bader and film subject Dick Cavett are scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
Monday 8/6: Director Robert S. Bader are scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
Then There Was Joe
2018, Justin Warren, USA, 102 min. With Ray Grady, Justin Warren, James "Butch" Warren.
- Tue, Aug 7th 8:00pm
- Wed, Aug 8th 8:00pm
"Appealingly genuine…There's enough entertaining stuff here to suggest that this crowd-funded production will pay off in a promising future." - Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
This highly entertaining blend of raucous comedy and heartfelt sentiment centers on the clashing personalities of two Arkansas brothers. Law-student Ben is strait-laced stickler who does everything right. Black-sheep older brother Joe is a smooth-talking operator who does everything wrong - most recently, getting arrested for a bungled robbery at a bowling alley filled with schoolchildren. The boys' father, who happens to be a judge, puts Joe in Ben's custody in the hope of bringing the mismatched siblings closer together. It isn't long before Joe's escapades put Ben's bar exam and wedding proposal in jeopardy, as he is drawn into a world of car thieves, prostitutes, and coke dealers. For his feature debut, filmmaker Warren (who plays Ben) based the story on his own relationship with his brother Justin (who collaborated on the screenplay), while casting their real-life father as the judge. Justin was originally supposed to play Joe, but, when he went on the lam, his shoes were ably filled by stand-up comedian Ray Grady, who brings charisma and comic energy to the juicy role of Joe. DCP digital. (MR)
August 7 & 8: Actor-director Justin Warren and actor Ray Grady are scheduled to appear for audience discussion at both screenings.
Shorts program: International Visions
2016-2018, Various directors, Various nations, 98 min.
- Thu, Aug 9th 8:00pm
Provocative stories from Africa and the African diaspora open up the world in these four shorts: WE LOVE MOSES (2016, UK, 15 min.) by Dionne Edwards; LALO'S HOUSE (2018, Haiti/USA, 25 min.) by Kelley Kali; FALLOU (2017, Senegal/UK, 30 min.) by Alassane Sy; and OFF PATH (TANGENTE) (2017, France/Reunion Island, 27 min.) by Rida Belghiat. In English, Haitian Creole, French, and Wolof with English subtitles.
Green Days By The River
2017, Michael Mooleedhar, Trinidad & Tobago, 102 min. With Sudai Tafari, Anand Lawkaran, Vanessa Bartholomew, Nadia Kandhai.
- Fri, Aug 10th 2:00pm
- Thu, Aug 16th 6:15pm
A Caribbean coming-of-age classic in the tradition of SUGAR CANE ALLEY, Michael Mooleedhar's first feature is adapted from Michael Anthony's acclaimed 1967 novel. Set in 1952, the story centers on the 15-year-old boy Shellie (Tafari), whose poor but closely knit family has recently relocated to a village in the Mayaro region of Trinidad. With his father seriously ill, Shellie acquires a surrogate father-figure in the wealthy plantation-owner Mr. Gidharee (Lawkaran), and he finds himself torn between Gidahree's seductive half-Indian daughter Rosalie (Kandhai) and the more down-to-earth charms of out-of-town girl Joan (Bartholomew). But does Shellie really have a choice, or has a trap been laid for him from the very beginning? GREEN DAYS BY THE RIVER is a rich sensory experience, featuring a lush sense of place, a superb music-laced soundtrack, and vividly colored, beautifully composed cinematography. DCP digital. (MR)
A Boy. A Girl. A Dream
2018, Qasim Basir, USA, 89 min. With Omari Hardwick, Meagan Good.
- Fri, Aug 10th 6:30pm
- Sat, Aug 11th 8:15pm
"Good and Hardwick are compelling...This is clearly a project with its own aspirations, and it is exciting to watch those actors guide it." - Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
Filmed in a single continuous take, this tour-de-force romance follows two strangers who meet by chance outside an L.A. nightclub. Cass (Hardwick of "Power") is a club promoter with a stalled career as a filmmaker. Frida aka Free (Good of "Minority Report") wanted to be a deejay but is now a lawyer about to fly back to the Midwest. They get off on the wrong foot, reconnect, Lyft it to a party in the Hollywood Hills, and face their futures in a Sunset Strip diner. The glittering L.A. lightscape and the continuous magic-carpet ride of the camera lend a dreamlike air to the proceedings, but the film counterpoints the couple's romantic bubble with intrusions from the outside world: ignored messages from significant others, a racial incident involving the police, and, most glaringly, the setting of the action on Election Night, 2016. As a nationwide tide of disillusionment rolls in, can a boy and a girl find the strength to take a leap and pursue their personal dreams? DCP digital. (MR)
2018, Nick Budabin, USA, 82 min.
- Fri, Aug 10th 8:30pm
- Mon, Aug 13th 8:00pm
"An intimate and involving portrait...the 82-minute CHI-TOWN compensates for its size by making every shot count." - David Ehrlich, Indiewire
A documentary about a basketball hopeful from a disadvantaged South Side neighborhood is bound to draw comparisons to HOOP DREAMS, but this compelling portrait of former Marshall High star Keifer Sykes carves out its own identity. The film's five-year saga begins with the charismatic Sykes winding up his illustrious high-school career and heading for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Only 5'11", Sykes uses dazzling moves and amazing vertical launch to forge a record-breaking career at Green Bay, but the height factor becomes more critical when he tries to break into the NBA. The most significant difference between HOOP DREAMS and CHI-TOWN is that the latter takes place in the age of THE INTERRUPTERS. The contrast between Sykes's sheltered campus life and his violence-plagued hometown neighborhood becomes increasingly acute as friends, teammates, and even his coach are felled by incarceration and gunfire. TV veteran Budabin's superbly edited first feature maintains a propulsive energy while striking a fine balance between exciting court action, intimate character study, and wider social context. DCP digital. (MR) FF
August 10 & 13: Director Nick Budabin and producer Terry Minogue are scheduled to appear for audience discussion at both screenings.
Shorts program: Made in Chicago
2017-2018, Various directors, USA, 90 min.
- Sat, Aug 11th 5:15pm
- Wed, Aug 15th 8:00pm
Five films featuring Chicago talent: AN ODE TO HAROLD (2017, 11 min.) by Ashley Chrisman; THE COLLEGE GRADUATE (2017, 18 min.) by Terry Hines Jr.; TRAINING WHEELS (2018, 15 min.) by Sanicole; THE POLYAMORIST (2018, 24 min.) by Vick Lee; and IRON FIVE (2018, 22 min.) by Rino Liberatore.
August 11 & 15: Directors Ashley Chrisman, Sanicole, Vick Lee, and Rino Liberatore are scheduled to appear for audience discussion at both screenings.
The G Force
2018, Pamela Sherrod Anderson, USA, 58 min.
- Sun, Aug 12th 3:00pm
- Tue, Aug 14th 6:00pm
With the rising trend of grandparents stepping in to raise their children's children when birth parents are unable, director Anderson (THE CURATORS OF DIXON SCHOOL) explores the phenomenon through the challenges, concerns, and joys of two unique Chicago families headed by grandmothers. "Grandma will tell you when you are wrong," declares peppery Ellen Robinson, who dotes with pride on teen grandson Patrick, even as she firmly models old-school values and insists on details like grace before meals. Grandmother Georgeanne Fischetti, who has raised young granddaughter Martha from birth, provides a home filled with warmth and laughter, and a surrogate granddad in her partner Bob. Love is the overriding message, but these loving elder parents also seek advice and peer support, and the film includes a profile of Evanston's Second Chance Grandparent Writing Group, as well as interviews with experts in legal and social services in the field. HDCAM video. (BS) FF
August 12 & 14: Director Pamela Sherrod Anderson and selected subjects of the film are scheduled to appear for audience discussion at both screenings.
2017, Nijla Mu'min, USA, 92 min. With Zoe Renee, Simone Missick.
- Sun, Aug 12th 5:15pm
- Tue, Aug 14th 8:15pm
"JINN is everything we should be seeing more of - a film headlined by people of color, and set in a milieu that a majority of movies ignore, trivialize or debase." - Keith Uhlich, Hollywood Reporter
A lively 17-year old with a passion for fashion and social media has her world upended when her divorced, spiritually drifting mother Jade (Missick), a TV meteorologist, converts to Islam, bringing her daughter Summer (Renee of THE QUAD) into the fold by default. Ever-curious, Summer at first gamely adopts the hijab as a new adventure, sweetened by a budding friendship with the Imam's handsome son, but missteps, doubts, and reflection come later. Director Mu'min underlines the jinn reference of the film's title, portraying this bright young woman as a quicksilver spirit slipping through many transformations as she seeks to find her real self-image and her own place in the order of things. Actress Zoe Renee shines with genuine star power in a characterization that is vibrant, believable, and full of heart. DCP digital. (BS)
August 12: Director Nijla Mu'min is scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
August 14: Director Nijla Mu'min, actress Zoe Renee, and producer Avril Z. Speaks are scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
Shorts program: Urban Tales
2017-2018, Various directors, USA, 91 min.
- Thu, Aug 16th 8:15pm
Five gritty tales of city life, two of them set in the all-too-conceivable future: IMAN AND THE LIGHT WARRIORS (2017, 15 min.) by Jarrett Woo; WAR PAINT (2018, 17 min.) by Katrelle N. Kindred; CIVIC MIND (2018, 19 min.) by Adonis Williams; GOOD KIDD (2017, 15 min.) by Jamari Perry; and WHERE THE WATER RUNS (2017, 25 min.) by DuBois Ashong.
August 16: Directors Katrelle N. Kindred, Jamari Perry (tentative), DuBois Ashong, and Adonis Williams are scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
2018, Juliane Dressner and Edwin Martinez, 88 min.
- Fri, Aug 17th 4:00pm
- Sun, Aug 19th 3:00pm
This inspiring documentary follows three minority student leaders through their high school senior year as they face personal challenges to college acceptance, even while working to motivate their peers to apply. Enoch, a football player with the potential for an athletic scholarship, lives with his sister and struggles to bring up his low grade-point average while his mother resides in a homeless shelter. Dominican American Christine meets with family resistance to her college plans. Karoline, an LGBTQ student, has been subjected to bullying and harassment while overcoming academic obstacles. The three forge a new path as counselors to their classmates, providing motivational guidance to college application, even as their own futures hang in the balance. DCP digital. (BS) FF
August 17 & 19: Directors Juliane Dressner and Edwin Martinez (tentative) are scheduled to appear for audience discussion at both screenings with cast members Karoline Jiménez, Christine Rodríguez, and Enoch Jemmott.
Shorts program: Love African American Style
2016-18, Various directors, USA, 87 min.
- Fri, Aug 17th 6:15pm
- Sat, Aug 18th 8:15pm
Love is sexy, bold, and sometimes demands a leap of faith in these seven provocative shorts: DID IT BEFORE (2017, 7 min.) by Mamadou Sewa Bah; LOUISIANA 1961 (2016, 13 min.) by Bobby Huntley; THE JUMP OFF (2017, 5 min.) by Jovan James; SPARKS (2017, 14 min.) by Tony Ducret; SUITABLE (2017, 15 min.) by Thembi L. Banks; MOTHS & BUTTERFLIES (2018, 16 min.) by Alfonso Johnson; and STUCK (2018, 17 min.) by Praheme.
August 17 & 18: Directors Mamadou Sewa Bah, Bobby Huntley (tentative), Tony Ducret (tentative), and Alfonso Johnson (tentative) are scheduled to appear for audience discussion at both screenings.
2018, Logan Hall, USA, 99 min. With Levenix Riddle, MacKenzie Chinn.
- Fri, Aug 17th 8:30pm
- Tue, Aug 21st 8:15pm
A Faustian premise gets a contemporary twist in present-day Chicago in this sci-fi-inflected tale in which a young artist discovers that he has the ability to change the past and direct the future. Neal (Riddle), struggling in his fledgling career as an illustrator, is taken under the wing of a mysterious animation professor who leads him to harness his talent to the mystical power of West African griots. Success, acclaim, and money arrive with the stroke of a pen, but Neal's new love Tina (Chinn) soon feels the sting of her man's dark side. Power over fate is a two-edged sword examined with a serious regard for the meaning of life and death in a script by Roberta Jones. DCP digital. (BS)
August 17 & 21: Producer/screenwriter Roberta Jones and director Logan Hall are scheduled to appear for audience discussion at both screenings.
The Color Of Art
2018, David Weathersby, USA, 60 min.
- Sat, Aug 18th 5:00pm
Director Weathersby, whose survey of the Neo-Soul movement GOT THE LOVE screened at the 2017 BHFF, returns with another account of grass-roots creativity in Chicago's African American community. With a lack of support from academia and the art establishment, black artists have historically struggled for respect and recognition. This lively and informative documentary explores the present-day renaissance of black art in Chicago, centered on neighborhoods such as Bronzeville and organizations such as the South Side Community Arts Center and the Hyde Park Art Center. Diverse and talented artists such as RJ Eldridge, Shyvette Williams, and Jesse Howard are profiled, but, rather than focusing on isolated creators, the film examines the ecosystem of artists, gallery owners, curators, and collectors that sustains the movement. There is a special emphasis on the relationships between artists and collectors, which are especially close and crucial in the black arts movement. ProRes digital. (MR) FF
August 18: Director David Weathersby, art collector Patric McCoy, artist-curator Joyce Owens, and artist Raymond Thomas are scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
Betty: They Say I'm Different
2017, Phil Cox, USA, 56 min.
- Sun, Aug 19th 5:30pm
- Mon, Aug 20th 8:00pm
"A sizzling biopic detailing how [Davis] revolutionized the music landscape for black women." - Patrick Gamble, Little White Lies
Innovator. Icon. Enigma. Born in North Carolina, Betty Davis began writing songs at age 12, entered the New York hipster scene in the 1960s, met and wed Miles Davis, and, in the course of a stormy one-year marriage, steered him in the direction of jazz fusion that would produce the turning-point album "Bitches Brew." After the divorce, she pursued her own career as songwriter and performer. At a time when the elegant polish of the Supremes was the role model, Davis, in such songs as "Nasty Gal" and "If I'm in Luck I Might Get Picked Up," unleashed a raw funk sound drenched with a brazen sexuality that still seems startling. Akin to Angela Davis and Pam Grier as an icon of empowered black womanhood, and a trailblazer for such sexualized performers as Madonna, Prince, and Rick James, Betty was too different for her time. Banned, boycotted, and marginalized, she dropped out of the music world and disappeared into a 35-year seclusion, until filmmaker Cox sought her out in a Pittsburgh suburb and persuaded her to open up for this imaginative portrait of a revolutionary artist. DCP digital. (MR)
August 19 & 20: Associate Producer Danielle Maggio is scheduled to appear for audience discussion at both screenings.
This One's For The Ladies
2018, Gene Graham, USA, 83 min.
- Tue, Aug 21st 6:15pm
- Wed, Aug 22nd 8:00pm
"An exuberant, sexy and sex-filled romp of a movie…now that's entertainment." - Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail
Ladies' night out is an X-rated experience savored with good-humor and shared sisterhood in this documentary exploring the unique culture of a New Jersey nightclub featuring African American male strippers for the delectation of an avid female clientele. Dancers with stage names like Rawdawg, Tyga, Satan, and Fever get down to bare-butt basics in provocative acrobatic routines in the true spirit of the art of burlesque, and play peekaboo with what is seen and not seen. Director Graham goes behind the raucous glittery spectacle for a look at the lives of performers, and interviews the family-focused women who form their fan base and see a night at the club as a joyous affirmation of black female desire. DCP digital. (BS)
Shorts program: Family Matters
2017-18, Various directors, USA/UK/Nigeria, 96 min.
- Thu, Aug 23rd 6:00pm
Families come together and move apart in love and conflict in these six shorts: BRIXTON ROCK (2017, 13 min.) by Etosheia Hylton; MYSELF WHEN I AM REAL (2017, 13 min.) by Nefertite Nguvu; BODEGA (2017, 19 min.) by Donna Augustin and Talibah L. Newman; GRACE (2017, 17 min.) by Eboni Adams; STILL WATER RUNS DEEP (2017, 15 min.) by Abbesi Akhamie; and RIVERMENT (2018, 19 min.) by Shayla Racquel.
August 23: Directors Donna Augustin and Eboni Adams (tentative) are scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
2018, David Schalliol, USA, 93 min.
- Thu, Aug 23rd 8:30pm
This searing documentary unfolds the process of a nefarious land grab for a more than century-settled swath of Chicago's South Side Englewood neighborhood. Over a five-year period, the Norfolk Southern railroad methodically turns 85 acres of black homes into eerily empty prairie land in the name of economic revitalization. Aided by the city council and a host of business interests, the railroad proceeds with a plan to expand its intermodal freight terminal into the heart of an area whose residents have few resources to resist when pressured with cash and threats of eminent domain. With a sensitive eye for the raw beauties of the urban landscape, director Schalliol follows a story that becomes powerfully emotional when the last holdouts, led by 30-year resident Deborah Payne, fight for their rights, while the homes of their neighbors fall one after another to the bulldozers. DCP digital. (BS) FF
THE AREA returns to the Gene Siskel Film Center for a run the week of September 14 - 20.
August 23: Director David Schalliol, subject Deborah Payne, and selected members of the production team are scheduled to appear for audience discussion.
Detroit 48202: Conversations Along A Postal Route
2018, Pam Sporn, USA, 99 min.
- Fri, Aug 24th 3:45pm
- Sun, Aug 26th 3:00pm
Detroit mailman Wendell Watkins serves as an amiable guide in this anecdotal odyssey through the rise, fall, and nascent resurgence of black working-class culture in his city. A postal worker of 26 years experience, Watkins daily traverses a sprawling zip code that encompasses blocks of the neatly kept homes of a dwindling black middle class, empty shells of abandoned businesses and factories, boarded-up apartment buildings, and weedy acres of newly vacant lots where houses once stood. Archival photographs and footage fill in the picture of the city's waves of black migration, segregation, the fight for auto industry jobs, and the growth of once-thriving black neighborhoods and institutions. In telling Detroit's story from a black perspective, director Sporn creates a provocative portrait of a city staggering under economic blows yet still resisting an equality of opportunity that might be its salvation. DCP digital. (BS) FF
August 24 & 26: Director Pam Sporn is scheduled to appear for audience discussion at both screenings.
2018, Meleisha J. Edwards and Mary McCallum, USA, 68 min. With Tamiko Robinson Steele, Mary McCallum, Molly Breen.
- Fri, Aug 24th 6:30pm
- Sat, Aug 25th 8:30pm
Singledom sucks for three feisty ladies with stories to tell and male egos to skewer in this raucously funny mockumentary that boasts an all-female cast. Three bachelorette pals beat a clutch of contenders to become subjects of a low-budget documentary on single life. Number One is coming off a bad breakup; Two theoretically sets her sights on Brad Pitt; and Three was ditched by a longterm beau who wouldn't commit. Parody is the name of the game as filmmakers Edwards and McCallum conjure up a host of goofy male stereotypes in flashbacks, pickup scenarios, and TV show satires, including "Blackorette," the reality show "Creepers," and "Rap Stars of Love," with the three women gleefully trading off the male impersonations. DCP digital. (BS)
Pieces of David
2017, Lawrence Lee Wallace, USA, 118 min. With Cynda Williams, Anita Nicole Brown, T.C. Rose.
- Fri, Aug 24th 8:30pm
- Tue, Aug 28th 8:30pm
You might say that the eponymous David is a generalist when it comes to women. Rather than specializing, why not spread the wealth among several, each with a distinct flavor of her own: say, a club-hopping party girl, a fresh-faced coed, a business-savvy lawyer, and a quiet homebody. It's a seemingly ideal arrangement - that is, unless all four unexpectedly show up at the same time. A knife is grabbed, a scuffle ensues, and, the next thing you know, David is dead. Now the four lovely accomplices are faced with the dilemma of how to dispose of the corpse - until one of them asks, "What do you expect us to do? Cut up his body and throw it in the lake?" Easier said than done... Black Harvest vet Wallace (SUNSHINE DAY, THIS IS NOT CHIRAQ) returns with his most ambitious production to date, a bawdy, bloody black comedy with a lively cast headed by Cynda Williams of MO' BETTER BLUES and ONE FALSE MOVE. DCP digital. (MR)
August 24 & 28: Director Lawrence Lee Wallace and selected members of the cast and crew are scheduled to appear for audience discussion at both screenings.
2018, Darien Sills-Evans, USA, 83 min. With Darien Sills-Evans, Devin Nelson.
- Sun, Aug 26th 5:30pm
- Mon, Aug 27th 8:00pm
Breaking up is hard to do, especially when there's a New York City apartment involved. Melissa (Nelson) and Nate (director Sills-Evans) are a couple living together in a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. As far as she's concerned, it's over. He still has hopes of patching it up, and, besides, she hasn't moved out yet. Flashbacks trace the passionate beginnings of their relationship and the factors that led to its collapse. Did deejay Nate really sleep with that eager young fan? And, if so, was Melissa justified in having "retaliation" sex? Moving day arrives, and Melissa seems to waver, but her hostile brother and her supportive BFF push the needle in the other direction. Will she go, or will she stay? A rom-com with bite, ONE BEDROOM is sharply acted and written, as writer-director-actor Sills-Evans ("Treme," "Superior Donuts," US Cellular commercials) deftly juggles three different time frames to trace a cycle of reflection, recrimination, and regret. DCP digital. (MR)
August 26 & 27: Actor-director Darien Sills-Evans is scheduled to appear for audience discussion at both screenings.
Shorts program: Women Of Color
2017-18, Various directors, USA, 88 min.
- Tue, Aug 28th 6:00pm
- Wed, Aug 29th 8:00pm
The strength of women of color to live, love, survive and prevail is at the center of these six shorts: GLADYS BROWN (2017, 13 min.) by Chad Scarborough; EMBERS (2018, 9 min.) by Prakshi Malik; BURNING ANGEL DUST (2017, 16 min.) by Jackie J. Stone; ON MONDAY OF LAST WEEK (2018, 14 min.) by Akosua Adoma Owusu; PEARL MOTEL (2017, 17 min.) by Chris Jones; and SHOTGUN WEDDING (2018, 19 min.) by Derek Dow.
Tuesday 8/28 & Wednesday 8/29: Director Derek Dow, producer/writer Felecia Hunter of GLADYS BROWN (tentatively), and directors Chad Scarborough and Chris Jones will be present for audience discussion at both screenings. The Wednesday screening is a Movie Club event.
Fear of A Black Hat
1993, Rusty Cundieff, USA, 88 min. With Rusty Cundieff, Kasi Lemmons.
- Thu, Aug 30th 6:30pm
"Funny and fresh, and filled with wicked little moments." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"The best hip-hop film of all." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Hip-hop got its own THIS IS SPINAL TAP with this affectionate but often deadly accurate satire of rapdom's early years. Follow documentary filmmaker/sociologist Nina Blackburn (Lemmons) as she covers a year in the life of the fabled group NWH (N - - -z with Hats) and its three founding members from Tough Neighborhood, USA: gun-happy Tasty Taste (Larry B. Scott), dim-bulb Tone Def (Mark Christopher Lawrence), and over-explainer Ice Cold (filmmaker Cundieff). Relive such immortal hits as "My Peanuts," "Grab Yo Dick," and "Guerrillas in the Midst," and the amazing music videos that went with them. Learn why their album "Kill Whitey" isn't really anti-white people, and why "Booty Juice" is actually a political allegory. Find out the real story behind the group's breakup, their subsequent solo careers, and their heartwarming reunion. Writer-director-costar Rusty Cundieff will be in the house with a 35mm print as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of his mockumentary classic. (MR)
August 30: Closing night! Filmmaker Rusty Cundieff is scheduled to appear for audience discussion. After the show, all ticket-holders are invited to a reception in our Gallery/Café.
A $25 VIP ticket includes a private off-site reception with Rusty Cundieff at 5:00 pm, plus a free popcorn and wine, beer, or beverage of your choice.
Our regular prices apply for non-VIP admission.
No free passes, blue tickets, or Black Harvest festival passes will be valid for this screening.