The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
2018, Marilyn Ness, USA, 107 min.
- Fri, Dec 14th 3:45pm
- Fri, Dec 14th 6:00pm
- Sat, Dec 15th 3:00pm
- Sun, Dec 16th 5:30pm
- Mon, Dec 17th 7:45pm
- Tue, Dec 18th 6:00pm
- Wed, Dec 19th 6:00pm
- Thu, Dec 20th 7:45pm
“There’s plenty to make you catch your breath…Captures up close the way violence transforms neighborhoods and families with an immediacy that transcends headlines or sensationalism.”--Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
“Simultaneously harrowing and nuanced…a gripping film that deserves more exposure.”--Christian Gallichio, The Playlist
Baltimore’s rough inner city, where gunfire and violent death are everyday occurrences, is the setting for this searing documentary that follows the street-level path of an activist, a cop, and a firebrand city council member, each creating a sphere of influence in the urban war zone made notorious by "The Wire." Mr. C, a grizzled veteran of the streets who operates a homemade community center; Monique, a veteran cop from the neighborhood; and Brandon Scott, a young black council member with grassroots ideas, disseminate tough love and compassion, and ignite a small spark of hope, even as their own lives are shadowed by adversity and loss. Filming over three years, director Ness finds pathos, empathy, and a resolve to persevere in a city ravaged by drugs, murder, and gang warfare, while her camera finds incongruous moments of beauty, peace, and celebration. DCP digital. (BS)
2018, Amanda Kopp and Aaron Kopp, Swaziland/Qatar/USA, 77 min.
- Fri, Dec 28th 2:00pm
- Fri, Dec 28th 6:00pm
- Sat, Dec 29th 3:00pm
- Sun, Dec 30th 5:30pm
- Wed, Jan 2nd 8:30pm
- Thu, Jan 3rd 6:00pm
“Deeply moving…a lyrical work that’s as bright and captivating as it is poignant.”--Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
“Powerful…brilliant dramatic fairytale on par with any Pixar flick.”--Iquo B. Essien, Shadow and Act
The powerful magic of African storytelling tradition and the hard realities of poverty, epidemic, and violent conflict merge for a documentary-fiction hybrid tale stirringly and triumphantly fashioned by children. On an orphanage farm in Swaziland, South African storyteller Gcina Mhlophe leads five young orphans through the dynamic creation of an adventure story that will provide an outlet for channeling the trials, travails, and obstacles of their own young lives. The heroine they invent is Liyana--a fierce, brave girl of their own age, who sets out on a treacherous journey to rescue her twin baby brothers from child traffickers after her parents die of AIDS. Through gripping narration by the young authors, alternating with animation combining 3D sculpted characters and sumptuously rendered 2D backdrops that colorfully evoke the Swazi landscape and culture, Liyana comes to life, to cross jungle and desert, endure hunger, pain and sorrow, and bravely face the perils of crocodiles, hyenas, monsters, and thieves. Executive produced by Thandie Newton. DCP digital widescreen. (BS)
Strike a Rock
2017, Aliki Saragas, South Africa, 87 min.
In 2012, workers striking for more humane conditions at South Africa’s Lonmin platinum mine are set upon by police, and 37 are massacred. This shocking event mobilized the women of the Marikana community to action in pursuit of justice--a quest related in this inspiring documentary. Primrose and Thumeka, grandmothers and longtime best friends, come to the fore as powerfully respected elders pursuing roles as catalysts bringing together the women of their impoverished makeshift town in the new organization Sikhala Sonke (We Cry Together). Primrose runs for Parliament and wins, taking their concerns national, while Thumeka remains the prime mover locally, addressing the Lonmin company’s massive default on legal obligations to build worker housing and provide a living wage. Now separated by distance and a differing focus of responsibilities, will their combined efforts on behalf of a still-struggling community prevail against the forces arrayed against them? Co-presented with Human Rights Watch, Chicago. ProRes digital. (BS)
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)