The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
2018, Stephanie Wang-Breal, USA, 98 min.
"One of the most hopeful real-world visions of heroic women ever to fill the screen."--Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
"Insightful and informative...The characters are riveting and the photography is casually stylish,but the real highlight is the urgency of the work Wang-Breal captures"--Jason Bailey, Village Voice
This eye-opening documentary plunges us into a courtroom probably unlike any other we have ever seen. The people in it, from the judge on down, are nearly all women. Devoid of confrontational histrionics, the atmosphere is congenial and compassionate. The defendants are African Americans and Asian immigrants who have been arrested for prostitution, but they are not treated as criminals. It is difficult to distinguish the defense from the prosecution, because all are working toward the common goal of moving the defendants out of the revolving-door system and into more normal lives. This is the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court in New York City, which has been operating since 2004. Following three of its key players, including Judge Toko Serita, director Wang-Breal's fluid, up-close camerawork provides us with an inside look at a radically innovative and remarkably effective (although recently threatened) approach to justice. In English, Mandarin, and Japanese with English subtitles. DCP digital. (MR)
2018, Wanuri Kahiu, Kenya/South Africa/France, 82 min.
With Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva
“Chemistry that perfectly encapsulates the exhilarating rush of romance and first love…the neon-pink romance RAFIKI is exactly what the world needs.”--Katy Moon, One Room with a View
“A fully black, beautiful, lesbian love story…colorful, warm, and real.”--Joi Childs, Shadow and Act
Banned in its home nation of Kenya just prior to its international premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, RAFIKI dares to confront African cultural, religious, and legal taboos in order to celebrate the star-crossed but passionately inevitable love story of two young Kenyan women. With political rival fathers running against each other for public office, tomboy Kena (Mugatsia) and pink-braided fashion-conscious Zika (Munyiva) find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide. They are drawn together nevertheless, with a conspicuous magnetism that will rile Kena’s religiously devout mother and Zika’s powerful and vengeful father, and set tongues wagging maliciously in Nairobi’s Slopes neighborhood. Basing her script on the story “Jambala Tree” by Ugandan author Monica Arac de Nyeko, director Kahiu communicates the irrepressible joy of first love, even as her heroines bravely choose to face the consequences of being different. In English and Swahili with English subtitles. DCP digital widescreen. (BS)