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.
Workshop: The Realities of Screenwriting
- Sun, Aug 30th 1:00pm
Thinking about writing a screenplay? Get the real scoop on screenwriting in this free workshop conducted by our “Black Harvest” consultant, critic Sergio Mims, who’s been there, done that. In this informative session, circa 90 minutes, Mims reveals what screenwriting books don’t tell you, and why hiring those self-proclaimed writing coaches and gurus is a waste of your time and money. (BS)
2015, Derek Grace, USA, 60 min.
Derek Grace has contributed to previous Black Harvest festivals with his community-oriented documentaries, including (as producer) the 2010 Audience Award-winner, ON THE FRONTLINE: TAKING BACK OUR STREETS. The lively, urgent COLLEGE WEEK explores a remarkable tradition at Spencer Technology Academy in Chicago’s crime-ridden Austin neighborhood. Every May, in defiance of the low expectations held for them, the teachers and students of each homeroom “adopt” a college--learning its colors, its requirements, and its activities (including learning braille for the Royal College for the Blind!)--in a spirited competition that rewards all the participants with a tangible sense of the possibilities that are open to them. DCP digital. (MR)
Shorts Program: Black Noir
2014-15, Various directors, USA, 76 min.
- Mon, Aug 31st 8:15pm
Six films take a walk on the dark side.
First Date, Last Date
2015, Derege Harding, 7 min.
A coffee-shop date takes an unexpected turn in this single-take tour de force.
2015, Princeton Holt, 5 min.
A young Brooklyn boy has to grow up all too quickly.
South Arcadia St.
2014, Melanie D’Andrea, 9 min.
In Melanie D'Andrea's wrenching SOUTH ARCADIA ST., a young teacher has a lot to learn on her first day at an inner-city school.
2014, Elton Loud, 11 min.
A young hustler learns that his arrogance will take him only so far in Elton Loud’s intriguingly ambiguous CANCER PIMP.
2015, Erica A. Watson, 19 min.
A teenage boy, his sexy mom, and her aggressive new boyfriend make for an explosive ménage in Erica A. Watson’s edgy, French-set ROUBADO.
2014, Bé Garrett, 25 min.
A 13-year-old girl is intrigued by the mysterious African American guest at her family’s Idaho motel in Bé Garrett’s moody AMERICAN FALLS, based on a story by Barry Gifford and featuring Vincent D’Onofrio (JURASSIC WORLD) in a supporting role.
Shorts Program: We Are Family
2013-15, Various directors, USA/Haiti, 85 min.
- Tue, Sep 1st 8:15pm
Family matters deeply, with love, tears, and laughter in these five shorts.
Mark Howard, USA, 14 min.
A toddler’s harried dad multi-tasks as the warrior on the home front.
Across the Tracks
2015, Michael Cooke, USA, 15 min.
The relationship of two sisters is fraught with shades of meaning.
2013, Katrelle Kindred, USA, 20 min.
The Rodney King riots bring a young honor student to a turning point.
2014, Martine Jean, USA/Haiti, 11 min.
A frightened immigrant on the verge of deportation appeals to the maternal instincts of a border guard.
Stanford & Son
2014, Moe Irvin, USA, 25 min.
A grown son is skeptical that father knows best when dad becomes a rapper.
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
2015, Stanley Nelson, USA, 116 min.
The August 29 show is a special advance screening courtesy of PBS Distribution. The August 29 screening is now SOLD OUT!
This film will return to the Film Center for an exclusive Chicago run from September 25 – October 1.
“We had a swagger,” recalls a former member of the most confrontational and controversial political organization of its era. Founded in Oakland in 1966 in response to police harassment, the Panthers openly carried weapons, dressed sharply in black berets and leather jackets, implemented important social initiatives such as the Free Breakfast for School Children program, and boasted a majority of women members. Using rare footage unadulterated by the mainstream media and candid interviews culled from all sides of the struggle, celebrated documentarian Nelson (JONESTOWN, FREEDOM SUMMER) makes the first film to cover the Panthers’ whole story, from their heady beginnings to their downfall from internal dissension and FBI subversion. DCP digital. (MR)