The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
2016, Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack, USA, 114 min.
"What Coburn Whack and Hercules do so well is capture Angelou's power and elegance...No hagiography, it paints a portrait of a life lived to the full and dedicated to being true to oneself." — Lanre Bakare, The Guardian
"The African-American icon’s richly textured and often traumatic story is unpacked in this near-definitive documentary." — Ed Gibbs, Little White Lies
The remarkable, daring, and iconic life of poet, writer, and activist Maya Angelou unfolds in this in-depth portrait, which includes a substantial element of storytelling by the artist herself. Angelou brings the resonant cadences of poetry to narrating an entrancing chronicle of a youth shaped by family upheaval, the racism of a small Arkansas town, and early motherhood, as eventually detailed in her first book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Rare footage traces her varied pre-writing career as a nightclub dancer, singer, and star known as “Miss Calypso,” her courage as a political activist, and her transformative friendships with figures including James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Interviews include Oprah Winfrey, Common, Alfre Woodard, Cicely Tyson, Quincy Jones, and Angelou’s son Guy Johnson. DCP digital. (BS)
2016, Margaret Byrne, USA, 102 min.
“Astounding and powerful.” — Bryn Gelbart, Indiewire
“Resonates powerfully with contemporary issues of racial inequality, educational opportunities and the Black Lives Matter movement.” — Glenn McDonald, News Observer
Six years in the making, this coming-of-age portrait of three young African American men in North Carolina’s rural Bertie County takes Reginald “Junior” Askew, David “Bud” Perry, and Davonte “Dada” Harrell from boyhood to manhood as their alternative school The Hive closes, opportunities diminish, and the three face challenges that variously include an incarcerated dad, broken homes, courtship and love, and early fatherhood. Produced by Chicago’s own internationally acclaimed Kartemquin Films (HOOP DREAMS, THE INTERRUPTERS), RAISING BERTIE movingly interconnects narratives of family, youthful innocence, struggles with systemic racism, poverty and unemployment, and the will to succeed in the face of formidable odds. DCP digital. (BS)