Black Harvest Encores
October 6 - 27
We present four of the most popular films from August's 24th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival, playing every Saturday in October at 8:15 pm.
Betty: They Say I'm Different
2017, Phil Cox, USA, 56 min.
"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)
The Color Of Art
2018, David Weathersby, USA, 60 min.
"A glorious feast for the eyes and the soul." - Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
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)
2018, Logan Hall, USA, 99 min. With Levenix Riddle, MacKenzie Chinn.
"The supernatural premise dates back at least as far as W.W. Jacobs's 1902 horror story 'The Monkey's Paw,' but screenwriter Roberta Jones wisely pushes her narrative past the confines of genre and into more complicated emotional territory." - J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
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)
2018, Nick Budabin, USA, 82 min.
- Sat, Oct 27th 8:15pm
"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. Winner of the Audience Award at the 2018 Black Harvest Film Festival. DCP digital. (MR)