The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
Down Hear: The Films of Mike Henderson
1970-83, Mike Henderson, USA, ca. 75 min.
- Thu, Mar 31st 6:00pm
Best known as a painter and blues guitarist, San Francisco–based artist Mike Henderson produced a remarkable body of experimental and performance-driven films starting in the mid 1960s through the 1980s. Politically charged and often wickedly funny, Henderson’s productions range from improvisational compositions and absurd musings to powerful “talking blues films” about blackness and black experience. Henderson presents a program from across his two decades with the medium, including the hilarious and conceptually pointed DUFUS (1970/1973) and powerful DOWN HEAR (1972), which tells the history of slave shipping through a charged performance by Henderson and his brother Raymond. 16mm restored prints courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. (Amy Beste)
2015, Aviva Kempner, USA, 96 min.
"Rich and fascinating biography." – Daniel M. Gold, The New York Times
"Wholly engaging from its first frame to its last ... [Viewers] are guaranteed to leave the theater enlightened and perhaps more than a touch gobsmacked.” – Matt Fagerholm, RogerEbert.com
Before the appearance of this acclaimed documentary, Jewish philanthropist Julius Rosenwald had been largely forgotten – except within the African American community, where his massive influence remained widely appreciated. A Russian peddler’s son who made a fortune running Sears, Roebuck & Co., the Chicago-based Rosenwald resolved to share his wealth. Connecting the dots between Russian pogroms and Southern lynchings, he focused his largesse on education for African Americans. His ingeniously financed Rosenwald Schools (inspired by his friend Booker T. Washington) provided unprecedented learning opportunities for black children in rural communities. His Rosenwald Fund nurtured the careers of a veritable who’s who of “talented tenth” eminences: Langston Hughes, Marian Anderson, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Ralph Bunche, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou...the list goes on and on. Director Kempner (THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG) creates a stirring tribute not only to a remarkable man but, even more so, to the leading figures of twentieth-century African American culture, an astonishing number of whom were empowered by Rosenwald’s generosity. DCP digital. (MR)