Black Harvest Film Festival 2015

August 8 – September 3

From August 8 through September 3, the Gene Siskel Film Center invites Chicago to celebrate the 21st edition of the Black Harvest Film Festival, exploring the stories, images, heritage, and history of the black experience in the U.S. and around the world through film and video. Talent is the key word in describing Black Harvest: an abundant manifestation of creativity representing emerging filmmakers and established masters alike. Black Harvest most especially promotes dialogue, and we feature many personal appearances for audience discussion.

Opening night on Saturday, August 8, will be a don’t-miss affair, when NBC 5’s LeeAnn Trotter MCs A Black Harvest Feast, which includes the presentation of this year’s Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in Community Leadership to distinguished director, producer, actress, singer, and playwright Jackie Taylor, founder of the Black Ensemble Theater, for her exceptional work in creating educational community outreach programs. Immediately after the show, the audience is invited to a reception across the street at the Joffrey Ballet studios.

Our September 3 closing night will feature director Kiara C. Jones with CHRISTMAS WEDDING BABY, her sparkling romantic comedy about love, rivalry and sisterhood. The closing night party sponsored by Whole Foods Market follows the screening.

Be the first to see a special advance screening of Stanley Nelson’s powerful BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION. Following this sneak preview, we bring the film back for the exclusive Chicago run the week of September 25 through October 1.

Chicago filmmakers are front and center throughout the festival. Ronit Bezalel premieres her documentary 70 ACRES IN CHICAGO: CABRINI GREEN, chronicling the controversial dismantling of the housing project. Derek Grace presents COLLEGE WEEK, detailing an inner-city middle school’s inspiring annual event. Cyrus Dowlatshahi appears with TAKIN’ PLACE, produced by Yvonne Welbon, a documentary on life and lifestyles on Chicago’s South Side. Actor Simeon Henderson (“Chicago PD”) discusses his starring role in JEREMY BROOKS at both screenings

Gun control activist Lucia McBath, mother of murder victim Jordan Davis, appears with 3 ½ MINUTES, TEN BULLETS, a documentary on the trial of her son’s killer; the audience is invited to a reception hosted by the MacArthur Foundation following the August 9 screening. Director Rusty Cundieff and actors Sharon Leal and Barry Shabaka Henley will appear with WHITE WATER, produced by Chicago native Dwayne Johnson-Cochran, a comedy/drama set in a segregated Southern town. Director Nefertite Nguvu will be present for screenings of her romantic drama IN THE MORNING. Additional filmmaker appearances are being added almost daily, so be sure to check back for updates on personal appearances and special events.

Three admission-free special events are designed with the aspiring or beginning filmmaker in mind. The August 9 workshop Legal and Business Pitfalls: Screenplay through Distribution and Fundraising offers step-by-step advice from an entertainment lawyer. On August 22, Action! The Real Deal About Filmmaking: Money, Casting, Production, and Distribution, this year’s edition of the ever-popular Black Harvest panel and DIY workshop, will cover every aspect of production and feature down-to-earth advice and practical information from our guest producers and directors. The August 30 presentation The Realities of Screenwriting will provide valuable tips.

The art exhibit “Body and Soul” curated by Felicia Mings, will be on display in our gallery/café throughout the festival.

All films are eligible for the Black Harvest Audience Award; ballots available in our lobby.

The Black Harvest Film Festival is supported by the Illinois Arts Council, a state 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.

FESTIVAL PARTNERS: Block Thirty Seven, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Reader, DuSable Museum of African American History, iHeartMedia, The Joffrey Ballet, Love Cork Screw, Marilyn's Cafe Society, Midwest Independent Film Festival, nUM yUMMIES, Rome's Joy Catering, Rebuild Foundation/Black Cinema House, Sound of Authority, WVON 1690 AM

Purchase a Black Harvest festival pass!

Six movies for less than the price of five, plus a free small popcorn with each film. Turn in your pass at the end of the festival for a $5 discount on a Gene Siskel Film Center membership. A $92 value for $50!


Best of the Black Harvest Film Festival in the Chicago Public Libraries

Our ongoing partnership with the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Tribune Foundation brings Black Harvest’s fascinating assortment of films to an even larger audience in Chicago's neighborhoods. Spread the word!

  • See past films for FREE and have a chance at winning tickets for the 2015 Black Harvest Film Festival.
  • Enjoy post-film discussions with filmmakers & FREE refreshments.



Opening Night Films! Filmmakers in person!

Opening Night Celebration:

A Black Harvest Feast

2014-15, Various directors, USA, 71 min.


  • Sat, Aug 8th 7:00pm


  • Sun, Aug 9th 12:30pm
Lucia McBath in person!

3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets

2015, Marc Silver, USA, 85 min.


  • Sun, Aug 9th 3:00pm
  • Mon, Aug 10th 8:00pm

Chicago connection! Filmmakers in person!

Shorts Program: Made in Chicago I

2013-15, Various directors, USA, 84 min.


  • Sun, Aug 9th 5:30pm
  • Thu, Aug 13th 8:15pm
Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti in person!

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez

2015, Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, USA, 90 min.


  • Tue, Aug 11th 6:15pm
  • Wed, Aug 12th 8:15pm

Shorts Program: International Visions

2014, Various nations, Various directors, 89 min.


  • Tue, Aug 11th 8:15pm

Last Night

2014, Harold Jackson III, USA, 93 min. With Judi Blair, Danny Gavigan.


  • Fri, Aug 14th 6:15pm
  • Sat, Aug 15th 8:30pm
Chicago connection! Filmmakers in person!

Jeremy Brooks

2015, Kyle T. Miller, USA, 120 min. With Simeon Henderson, Niya Davis.


  • Fri, Aug 14th 8:30pm
  • Thu, Aug 20th 8:15pm

Chicago connection!

Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America

2010, J. Kevin Swan, USA, 64 min. Narrated by Terrence Howard.


  • Sat, Aug 15th 1:00pm

Crescendo! The Power of Music

2014, Jamie Bernstein, USA, 85 min.


  • Sun, Aug 16th 3:00pm
  • Tue, Aug 18th 6:15pm