The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary
2016, John Scheinfeld, USA, 99 min.
"The genius of John Coltrane comes to life in an elegantly crafted documentary that can hook jazz novices as well as connoisseurs." — Owen Gleiberman, Variety
"A movie on a mission...Prepare to be dazzled." — Kelly Vance, East Bay Express
The first comprehensive documentary on the saxophone giant, CHASING TRANE begins in 1957, with Coltrane at a crossroads: he has just been fired from the Miles Davis Quintet for repeated drug use. Charlie Parker's heroin-hastened death two years earlier indicated one path to follow. Instead, after going cold turkey, Coltrane experienced a spiritual and musical awakening that took him to the farthest reaches of jazz and beyond, including such milestones as his crossover hit "My Favorite Things," his church-bombing elegy "Alabama," and his soaring 1964 album "A Love Supreme." Director Scheinfeld (THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON) chronicles this amazing journey with never-before-seen photographs and home movies; stunning performance footage; and Denzel Washington voicing Coltrane's words. In addition, a wide-ranging host of admirers (including Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Heath, McCoy Tyner, Carlos Santana, Common, John Densmore, Cornel West, and Bill Clinton) speak feelingly of the personal importance of Coltrane's music to them. As Santana says of Coltrane, “Some people play jazz. Some people play reggae. Some people play blues. He played life." DCP digital. (MR)
2016, Olivier Babinet, France, 84 min.
Music-video director Babinet spent two years working with kids in the projects in the Parisian suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois before embarking on a film that focuses on eleven middle-school students. Although the pervasive presence of drug-dealing, gang violence, and police harassment is always hovering around the edges, SWAGGER avoids the war-zone atmosphere of such films as LA HAINE and DHEEPAN in order to concentrate on the intimate and inner worlds of its subjects. Framed in bold colors and crisp compositions, they share their hopes, fears, and dreams, the last occasionally breaking through the documentary surface to enter a realm of the imagination: a science-fiction drone attack, a celebrity-style strut through school hallways, a Gene Kelly-like dance number with a red umbrella. SWAGGER reveals a hidden world that lies outside traditional concepts of “France" but nevertheless constitutes a rich and vital part of it. In French with English subtitles. DCP digital. (MR)