The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
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)