The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
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)
1980, Franco Rosso, U.K., 95 min.
With Brinsley Forde, Archie Pool, Trevor Laird
"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)