The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
No Maps On My Taps
1979, George T. Nierenberg, USA, 59 min.
"The films, which I consider the two best ever made about the art, didn’t just record tap history; they became part of it, helping to stoke a revival." — Brian Seibert, The New York Times
Three veteran African American tap dance masters — Bunny Briggs, Chuck Green, and Howard “Sandman” Sims — tell their stories, reminisce, and dance their hearts out in a documentary that single-handedly launched a tap revival and became an international hit in the process. This 2K restoration of tap aficionado Nierenberg’s (SAY AMEN, SOMEBODY) joyous tribute to the art sparkles anew as the three stars perform at the Harlem club Small’s Paradise, accompanied by Lionel Hampton and his orchestra. History flows from fleet feet when Green dances “Caravan,” Briggs runs through a sequence of “rhythm” dancing, and Sims demonstrates the evolution of the unique technique that earned him the “Sandman” moniker. There’s much more, including priceless historical clips that include Bill Robinson tapping up a staircase with Shirley Temple.
Preceded by ABOUT TAP (1985, George T. Nierenberg, USA, 25 min.), featuring Gregory Hines paying tribute to Steve Condos, Jimmy Slyde, and Chuck Green, three of the Apollo Theater tap stars who had awed him as a child. Both in DCP digital. (BS)
2015, Albert Maysles, Lynn True, David Usui, Nelson Walker III, and Benjamin Wu, USA, 76 min.
“Fleet and light…gently thrilling, often revealing, alive with talk and scenic beauty.” — Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
“Depicts cross-country train travel as a rare refuge of American idealism...The movie may seem modest, but there are shades of Jack Kerouac and Studs Terkel in its chronicler’s ambitions, and echoes of John Ford in its portrayal of how Americans form communities.” — Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
The final film by master documentarian Maysles (GREY GARDENS, IRIS), this collaborative production is an entrancing road movie set onboard Amtrak’s iconic silver Empire Builder in the course of the three-day journey from Chicago to Seattle. The title is both literal and metaphoric, as passengers from all walks of life are seen poised on the brink of personal change. They include a young woman fleeing an abusive relationship and about to give birth, an ambitious youth looking to make his fortune in the Dakota oil fields, a hopeful lover on his way to propose, and a trainman who is living his childhood dream. With its beckoning glimpses of small towns and vast landscapes, the picturesque journey becomes an intimate leveler, creating a safe community of friends within the confines of the train. DCP digital. (BS)