The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey
2016, Mallory Sohmer and Kate Benzschawel, USA, 86 min
A musical pilgrimage to Senegal illuminates links to their Africa heritage for four Chicago youths, but it also uncovers complex and troubling issues that were not anticipated when filming of this documentary began. Social worker Elilta Tewelde, herself an Eritrean refugee, becomes fascinated by the bucket drummers whom she sees performing on the streets of Chicago’s South Side. She crowd-funds a project to take four teenage drummers on a trip to Senegal to study under master percussionist/griot Medoune Gueye (aka Papa Dame). But the cultural gulf between South Side and West Africa is not so easily crossed, and conflicts arise among Tewelde, the four boys, and their Senegalese hosts. DCP digital. (MR)
O.J.: Made in America
2016, Ezra Edelman, USA, 468 min.
"Staggering...has the grandeur and authority of the best long-form nonfiction. If it were a book, it could sit on the shelf alongside 'The Executioner's Song' by Norman Mailer and the great biographical works of Robert Caro." — A.O. Scott, The New York Times
"Nothing short of a towering achievement...After all the media coverage, the books, the outrage, the documentaries, the miniseries — after so much sturm-und-drang, this story has at last been perfectly captured and perfectly told." — Hank Stuever, Washington Post
This critically acclaimed, compulsively watchable portrait of the sports hero/murder defendant is considered a front-runner for this year’s best documentary Oscar. It not only provides an in-depth examination of Simpson’s roots, career, and personality, but also connects them to larger social and cultural issues including jock culture, celebrity culture, gender bias, domestic violence, police violence, and, above all, race. Simpson is carefully and convincingly painted as a complex, paradoxical figure, who gained fame by isolating himself from his own race (“I’m not black, I’m O.J.”), then ironically became the standard-bearer for millions of African Americans frustrated by centuries of injustice, culminating (but by no means ending) with the Rodney King verdict in 1991. A character study as contradictory and mulifaceted as CITIZEN KANE, the film draws upon skillfully curated archival material and compelling new interviews with those who were dazzled, baffled, and disillusioned by Simpson, including childhood friends, policemen, journalists, black community leaders, and members of the defense, prosecution, and jury. This uncut theatrical version of the film is a uniquely riveting experience — as director Edelman has said, "I set out to tell one big story...I wish everybody would watch this as a seven-and-a-half hour movie." The film has just been nominated for five Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards (BFCA). Note: Part 2 contains images of graphic violence. DCP digital. (MR)