The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
Quand on a 17 ans
2016, André Téchiné, France, 116 min. With Sandrine Kiberlain, Kacey Mottet Klein, Corentin Fila.
“Well into his 70s, André Téchiné delivers his most youthful film yet…feels like something of a revelation.” — Peter Debruge, Variety
“Quite extraordinary…an ultra-naturalistic slice of rocky adolescent life that combines violence and sensuality, wrenching loss and tender discovery.” — David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
Love and hatred are two sides of sexual desire in this nuanced coming-of-age story set against the isolated beauty of the French Pyrenees over three seasons. Violent fistfights and harsh bullying mask a deeply denied attraction between Damien (Mottet Klein), brainy son of professionals, and Tom (Fila), adopted biracial son of farmers. When Tom’s mother becomes ill, Damien’s doctor mother (Kiberlain) invites the boys into an awkward live-in proximity that will awaken conflicting feelings in all three of them. Co-scripted by director Téchiné (WILD REEDS) and Céline Sciamma (director of TOMBOY and GIRLHOOD), this sensual and sensitive chronicle of coming to terms with love takes a fresh look at young manhood and the permutations of family. In French and Spanish with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
2016, Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack, USA, 114 min.
"What Coburn Whack and Hercules do so well is capture Angelou's power and elegance...No hagiography, it paints a portrait of a life lived to the full and dedicated to being true to oneself." — Lanre Bakare, The Guardian
"The African-American icon’s richly textured and often traumatic story is unpacked in this near-definitive documentary." — Ed Gibbs, Little White Lies
The remarkable, daring, and iconic life of poet, writer, and activist Maya Angelou unfolds in this in-depth portrait, which includes a substantial element of storytelling by the artist herself. Angelou brings the resonant cadences of poetry to narrating an entrancing chronicle of a youth shaped by family upheaval, the racism of a small Arkansas town, and early motherhood, as eventually detailed in her first book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Rare footage traces her varied pre-writing career as a nightclub dancer, singer, and star known as “Miss Calypso,” her courage as a political activist, and her transformative friendships with figures including James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Interviews include Oprah Winfrey, Common, Alfre Woodard, Cicely Tyson, Quincy Jones, and Angelou’s son Guy Johnson. DCP digital. (BS)
2016, Margaret Byrne, USA, 102 min.
“Astounding and powerful.” — Bryn Gelbart, Indiewire
“Resonates powerfully with contemporary issues of racial inequality, educational opportunities and the Black Lives Matter movement.” — Glenn McDonald, News Observer
Six years in the making, this coming-of-age portrait of three young African American men in North Carolina’s rural Bertie County takes Reginald “Junior” Askew, David “Bud” Perry, and Davonte “Dada” Harrell from boyhood to manhood as their alternative school The Hive closes, opportunities diminish, and the three face challenges that variously include an incarcerated dad, broken homes, courtship and love, and early fatherhood. Produced by Chicago’s own internationally acclaimed Kartemquin Films (HOOP DREAMS, THE INTERRUPTERS), RAISING BERTIE movingly interconnects narratives of family, youthful innocence, struggles with systemic racism, poverty and unemployment, and the will to succeed in the face of formidable odds. DCP digital. (BS)
Daughters of the Dust
1991, Julie Dash, USA/UK, 112 min. With Alva Rogers, Bahni Turpin.
“A film of spellbinding visual beauty…an extended, wildly lyrical meditation on the power of African cultural iconography and the spiritual resilience of the generations of women who have been its custodians.” — Stephen Holden, The New York Times
“Distinctive, original…every image, every moment is a full creation…Dash is one of the heroines of the modern cinema.” — Richard Brody, New Yorker
A film of breathtaking beauty and haunting cultural resonance, this landmark independent film by the first African American woman to ever receive theatrical distribution in the U.S. returns in a fully remastered restoration on the 25th anniversary of its release. On a summer day in 1902, a large African American family descended from slaves gathers for one last picnic in their Sea Island home on the eve of their move North. The knowledge and mystical traditions of the clan’s West African heritage are manifest in the women of the family, from the matriarch Nana to the unborn baby girl in her granddaughter’s womb, as the family confronts the conflicts and challenges of a new century. In English and Gullah dialect with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
Agents of Change
2014, Frank Dawson and Abby Ginzberg, USA, 66 min.
“The film’s characters were caught at the crossroads of the civil rights, black power, and anti-Vietnam war movements at a pivotal time in America’s history.” — Sojourner Truth Radio
The little-known story of the late-Sixties grassroots struggle that led to the creation of departments of black and ethnic studies at American colleges and universities is told in this documentary focusing on the seminal student revolts at San Francisco State and Cornell. Black students recruited by institutions of higher learning in unprecedented numbers soon found their history and culture reflected nowhere on all-white campuses. Protests and sit-ins evolved into violent armed revolution that startled the nation with images of black students with guns. Filmmakers Dawson and Ginzberg combine the first-person recollections of those who were there with powerful archival footage and photographs for a compelling evocation of history. Winner of Jury and Audience awards at the 2016 Pan-African Film Festival. DCP digital. (BS)
Do Not Resist
2016, Craig Atkinson, USA, 72 min.
“An eye-opening experience.” — Dexter Filkins, New Yorker
“Haunting…I had to force myself to exhale.” — Radley Balko, Washington Post
This Tribeca Film Festival award-winner by the cinematographer of the acclaimed hit DETROPIA, himself the son of a retired SWAT team member, takes a revealing look at the militarization of American police departments, a government-funded, post-9/11 initiative that put armored vehicles, assault rifles, grenade launchers, and bayonets in the hands of cops across the nation in the name of a vaguely conceived war on terror. From violence-torn Ferguson to the sleepy streets of suburbs and small towns, the machinery of war is employed against citizen protests and in the course of smalltime drug busts, with police acting as modern-day storm troopers. Director Atkinson goes behind the scenes in Senate hearings, law enforcement training seminars, community hearings, and shocking street maneuvers for a hard-hitting probe of the phenomenon. DCP digital. (BS)
Tear the Roof Off: The Untold Story of Parliament Funkadelic
2016, Bobby J. Brown, USA, 58 min.
Filmmaker Brown takes us way behind the scenes historically in this revealing profile of the revolutionary dance-party funk band Parliament Funkadelic, including a hard look at its controversial and autocratic leader George Clinton. From doo-wop roots to the Mothership Connection tour and the eventual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, the music and the over-the-top costumes put the fun in funk. The stories of high life and wild ways are de rigueur for the rock scene, but the meat of this tale is an unraveling saga of Clinton’s ruthless manipulation and exploitation of band members, leaving some of his original collaborators bewildered and betrayed. DCP digital. (BS)
Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey
2016, Mallory Sohmer and Kate Benzschawel, USA, 86 min
A musical pilgrimage to Senegal illuminates links to their Africa heritage for four Chicago youths, but it also uncovers complex and troubling issues that were not anticipated when filming of this documentary began. Social worker Elilta Tewelde, herself an Eritrean refugee, becomes fascinated by the bucket drummers whom she sees performing on the streets of Chicago’s South Side. She crowd-funds a project to take four teenage drummers on a trip to Senegal to study under master percussionist/griot Medoune Gueye (aka Papa Dame). But the cultural gulf between South Side and West Africa is not so easily crossed, and conflicts arise among Tewelde, the four boys, and their Senegalese hosts. DCP digital. (MR)
O.J.: Made in America
2016, Ezra Edelman, USA, 468 min.
"Staggering...has the grandeur and authority of the best long-form nonfiction. If it were a book, it could sit on the shelf alongside 'The Executioner's Song' by Norman Mailer and the great biographical works of Robert Caro." — A.O. Scott, The New York Times
"Nothing short of a towering achievement...After all the media coverage, the books, the outrage, the documentaries, the miniseries — after so much sturm-und-drang, this story has at last been perfectly captured and perfectly told." — Hank Stuever, Washington Post
This critically acclaimed, compulsively watchable portrait of the sports hero/murder defendant is considered a front-runner for this year’s best documentary Oscar. It not only provides an in-depth examination of Simpson’s roots, career, and personality, but also connects them to larger social and cultural issues including jock culture, celebrity culture, gender bias, domestic violence, police violence, and, above all, race. Simpson is carefully and convincingly painted as a complex, paradoxical figure, who gained fame by isolating himself from his own race (“I’m not black, I’m O.J.”), then ironically became the standard-bearer for millions of African Americans frustrated by centuries of injustice, culminating (but by no means ending) with the Rodney King verdict in 1991. A character study as contradictory and mulifaceted as CITIZEN KANE, the film draws upon skillfully curated archival material and compelling new interviews with those who were dazzled, baffled, and disillusioned by Simpson, including childhood friends, policemen, journalists, black community leaders, and members of the defense, prosecution, and jury. This uncut theatrical version of the film is a uniquely riveting experience — as director Edelman has said, "I set out to tell one big story...I wish everybody would watch this as a seven-and-a-half hour movie." The film has just been nominated for five Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards (BFCA). Note: Part 2 contains images of graphic violence. DCP digital. (MR)
2016, Diego Luna, Mexico, 100 min. With Maya Rudolph, Danny Glover.
"MR. PIG may be an elegy, [but] it won't traffic in self-importance or self-pity." — John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
A moving, finely tuned performance by Danny Glover as Ambrose, an aging pig farmer heading down his last highway, anchors this gentle road movie on the elusive trail of forgiveness. Concealing alcoholism, foreclosure, and a health secret from his estranged adult daughter Eunice (Rudolph), Ambrose dotes on Howie, the enormous prize hog that occupies a central place in his life as his pet and emotional anchor. A trip to Mexico to sell Howie for a handsome sum in order to create a legacy for Eunice goes awry, bringing cantankerous father and wary daughter together for one last chance to connect as family. In English. DCP digital. (BS)