The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
2019, Kasi Lemmons, USA, 125 min.
With Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr.
"A rousing and powerful drama."—A.O. Scott, The New York Times
"I made a decision early on I wanted this to be a movie you could take a sophisticated 10-year-old to. He could see it with his grandmother, and they could both really enjoy it."—Kasi Lemmons
Harriet Tubman, one of the most heroic figures in American history, gets a long-overdue screen treatment in this stirring biopic of the young slave woman who escaped to Philadelphia and then returned time and again to lead other slaves to freedom. Director Lemmons (EVE'S BAYOU) said that she wanted to avoid both "slavery porn" and the "fuzzification" of African American heroes. As brought to life by the intense and edgy performance of Cynthia Erivo (Tony-winner for The Color Purple), Harriet comes across as believably obstinate, impulsive, and passionately, even recklessly driven. Lemmons makes frequent use of gospel hymns and Harriet's mystical visions to underscore the importance of music and spirituality in African American life, while the effective use of Nina Simone's "Sinnerman" and action-movie tropes (including shout-outs to THE FUGITIVE and JAWS) give the film a more contemporary resonance. DCP digital widescreen. (MR)
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project
2019, Matt Wolf, USA, 87 min.
“Compelling…weirdly exhilarating.”—Glenn Kenny, The New York Times
“Remarkable…weird and often quite moving.”—Kate Erbland, Indiewire
In the course of roughly thirty years, Marion Stokes, a Philadelphia African American librarian, leftwing activist, and borderline hoarder, obsessively recorded more than 70,000 VHS tapes charting news events large and small, national and local, as seen on TV — from the Iran hostage crisis to Sandy Hook. This oddly compelling documentary pieces together the bizarre story of the creation of a vast and now historically priceless unfiltered archive of news events as they unfolded simultaneously on multiple channels of network television. Was she an obsessive crank or a brilliant visionary? Filmmaker Wolf delves into the life of a woman with a drive to ferret out truth in the public realm. Her second marriage to a wealthy like-minded man enabled her to pursue her passion day and night, even as it alienated families and turned them both into hermits. DCP digital. (BS)