The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
The Killing Floor
1984, Bill Duke, USA, 118 min.
With Damien Leake, Alfre Woodard, Moses Gunn
"One of the all-time great Chicago movies...a terrific history lesson, a compelling drama, and a lovingly recreated period piece all rolled into one."—Michael Glover Smith, White City Cinema
Produced independently with grassroots support from union organizations and members, THE KILLING FLOOR was broadcast on PBS, received critical acclaim, then virtually disappeared outside of murky VHS copies. A new 4K digital restoration brings back this powerfully authentic historical drama, with events and characters drawn from real life. Beginning in 1917, the hard-hitting narrative centers on Frank Custer (Leake), who leaves his destitute Mississippi farm for the promised land of Chicago. He gets a job in the stockyards, but he soon finds himself caught in a crossfire of bitter conflicts—labor against management, union workers against non-union workers, blacks against whites—that will explode in the infamous race riot of summer 1919. Director Duke (A RAGE IN HARLEM, DEEP COVER) draws vivid characterization against a broad canvas of the racial, ethnic, and class tensions that shook Chicago during a crucial period of turmoil and growth. New 4K DCP digital restoration. (MR)
Give Me Liberty
2019, Kirill Mikhanovsky, USA, 110 min.
With Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, Chris Galust, Max Stoianov
“A jolt of a movie, at once kinetic and controlled…it’s irresistible.”—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“Warm, fiercely independent…a boisterous and freewheeling joyride.”—Peter Debruge, Variety
Lurching and sprawling into new territory for comedy, this saga of one day in the life of Milwaukee medical transport van driver Vic (Galust), a conscientious young Russian American, turns into a manic melting-pot adventure. On the wacky, star-crossed day in question, Vic, who drives clients with special needs to their daily destinations, becomes the backseat protagonist in a high-energy urban road movie that puts the interlocking stories of a clutch of unscheduled passengers in the driver’s seat. Rider Tracy (Spencer), who doesn’t let a wheelchair slow down her queenly sense of command, is joined by a rambunctious group of mourners en route to an impromptu Russian funeral, including Dima (Stoianov), the life-of-the-party nephew of the deceased, and an odd assortment of regulars and hangers-on. Director Mikhanovsky’s marvelous non-professional cast of stars in the making neatly overturns any stereotypes regarding differently-abled actors, for a rollicking and profoundly touching caper. In English and Russian with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)