The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
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)
2014, Pedro Costa, Portugal, 104 min. With Ventura, Vitalina Varela.
"A visual album of souls, lost and found" – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"As gorgeous and impenetrable as a dream." – Matt Zoeller Seitz, RogerEbert.com
"The puzzle-box narrative only grows more hypnotic with repeat viewings. The movie insists on having the audience, like Ventura, pass through madness to reach catharsis." – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
Ventura, the gaunt, grizzled Cape Verdean immigrant who has served as director Pedro Costa’s muse and central character in films including COLOSSAL YOUTH, returns in an even more commanding role in HORSE MONEY. Mysteriously at death’s door, Ventura takes an eerie journey through dark episodes in his own life as they coalesce with Portugal’s troubling colonial past. Former lovers, friends, and work mates may be illusions as the powerful puzzle comes together in bewitching chiaroscuro imagery. In Cape Verdean, Creole, and Portuguese with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)