The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
1980, Franco Rosso, U.K., 95 min.
With Brinsley Forde, Archie Pool, Trevor Laird
- Fri, Apr 19th 4:00pm
- Fri, Apr 19th 8:00pm
- Sat, Apr 20th 5:30pm
- Sun, Apr 21st 3:00pm
- Mon, Apr 22nd 6:00pm
- Wed, Apr 24th 8:00pm
- Thu, Apr 25th 6:00pm
"Still feels new…it's got an episodic vividness and a blanket-load of warmth."--Wesley Morris, The New York Times
"An English cousin to the earlier Jamaica-set films THE HARDER THEY COME and ROCKERS that is vastly superior in cinematic terms and just as valuable as a cultural document."--John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
Released in 1980 in Britain, this hard-hitting semi-documentary drama set amid the Jamaican/reggae subculture of South London achieved critical acclaim and cult status despite being slapped with an X rating. Considered too incendiary and culturally specific for American import, it is just now receiving its first U.S. release in a newly restored version. Set against a background of rising racial tensions in Thatcher's England, the loose narrative centers on Blue (Forde, front man of the leading reggae group Aswad), DJ for the "sound system" crew Ital Lion, as he and his mates cruise through London in their lion-emblazoned van, cadge sound equipment by hook or by crook, barter for the latest records, and prepare for a musical showdown with the rival crew Shaka. Co-scripted by Martin Stellman (QUADROPHENIA) and first-time director Rosso, lensed by Oscar-winner Chris Menges (THE KILLING FIELDS), and scored by top reggae producer Dennis Bovell, BABYLON presents a sympathetic but unsanitized view of the rude boy world, acknowledging its shortcomings (sexism, homophobia, retaliatory racism) alongside the pervasive white racism and police brutality that finally drives the easygoing Blue to the brink. In English and Jamaican patois with English subtitles. DCP digital. (MR)
2018, Wanuri Kahiu, Kenya/South Africa/France, 82 min.
With Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva
- Fri, Apr 26th 2:00pm
- Fri, Apr 26th 6:30pm
- Sat, Apr 27th 3:15pm
- Sun, Apr 28th 1:30pm
- Sun, Apr 28th 5:15pm
- Mon, Apr 29th 8:00pm
- Tue, Apr 30th 6:00pm
- Thu, May 2nd 6:00pm
- Thu, May 2nd 8:15pm
“Chemistry that perfectly encapsulates the exhilarating rush of romance and first love…the neon-pink romance RAFIKI is exactly what the world needs.”--Katy Moon, One Room with a View
“A fully black, beautiful, lesbian love story…colorful, warm, and real.”--Joi Childs, Shadow and Act
Banned in its home nation of Kenya just prior to its international premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, RAFIKI dares to confront African cultural, religious, and legal taboos in order to celebrate the star-crossed but passionately inevitable love story of two young Kenyan women. With political rival fathers running against each other for public office, tomboy Kena (Mugatsia) and pink-braided fashion-conscious Zika (Munyiva) find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide. They are drawn together nevertheless, with a conspicuous magnetism that will rile Kena’s religiously devout mother and Zika’s powerful and vengeful father, and set tongues wagging maliciously in Nairobi’s Slopes neighborhood. Basing her script on the story “Jambala Tree” by Ugandan author Monica Arac de Nyeko, director Kahiu communicates the irrepressible joy of first love, even as her heroines bravely choose to face the consequences of being different. In English and Swahili with English subtitles. DCP digital widescreen. (BS)
2018, Stephanie Wang-Breal, USA, 98 min.
- Thu, May 16th 8:00pm
"One of the most hopeful real-world visions of heroic women ever to fill the screen."--Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
"Insightful and informative...The characters are riveting and the photography is casually stylish,but the real highlight is the urgency of the work Wang-Breal captures"--Jason Bailey, Village Voice
This eye-opening documentary plunges us into a courtroom probably unlike any other we have ever seen. The people in it, from the judge on down, are nearly all women. Devoid of confrontational histrionics, the atmosphere is congenial and compassionate. The defendants are African Americans and Asian immigrants who have been arrested for prostitution, but they are not treated as criminals. It is difficult to distinguish the defense from the prosecution, because all are working toward the common goal of moving the defendants out of the revolving-door system and into more normal lives. This is the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court in New York City, which has been operating since 2004. Following three of its key players, including Judge Toko Serita, director Wang-Breal's fluid, up-close camerawork provides us with an inside look at a radically innovative and remarkably effective (although recently threatened) approach to justice. In English, Mandarin, and Japanese with English subtitles. DCP digital. (MR)
The Gospel of Eureka
2018, Donal Mosher and Michael Palmieri, USA, 75 min.
“Meditative and fabulous in equal measure…consistently surprising in a way that makes you see this world anew.”--Bilge Ebiri, Vulture
“An idealistic crowd-pleaser…this beautiful and beautifully shot documentary is a cure for the angry headline blues.”--Amy Nicholson, Variety
Biblical pageants and queer lounge acts don’t often go hand in hand, except as seen in this pre-Easter joy of a documentary exploring the unusually accepting culture of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a town that plays host equally to conservative Christians and gender-fluid folk. The Christ of the Ozarks statue, ironically commissioned in 1966 by a bigot, towers over Eureka Springs, home to an extravagant open-air Passion Play six months of the year, as well as to the largest LGBT population in the Bible Belt. An evening spent watching Jesus’s crucifixion is often followed by dancing at the Eureka Live Underground, the popular bar owned by a married gay Christian couple, where drag queens lip-sync Gospel hits right along with secular fare. Through the stories and experiences of longtime residents, and a heaping helping of behind- the-scenes views of the town’s famously flamboyant and effects-heavy play, the filmmakers explore the unique blend of influences that have made acceptance the byword in Eureka, just as a vote on transgender bathroom use looms. DCP digital. (BS)
2016, Gordon Quinn, USA, 30 min.
This then-and-now look at the historic 1963 boycott against the Chicago Public Schools focuses on a massive protest that brought 200,000 students to the streets and ultimately brought down schools superintendent Benjamin Willis for promoting discriminatory practices and de facto segregation in South Side schools. Director Quinn updates the fight for equality in the schools to the present day, with a contrasting look at the same issues in new guises under the administration of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. DCP digital. (BS)