The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
The Gospel According to André
2017, Kate Novack, USA, 94 min.
"Entertaining doc about perhaps the greatest, most gigantic (in every way) fashionista who ever lived." - David Noh, Film Journal International
"The most essential fashion documentary since BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK." - Glenn Dunks, The Film Experience
This all-encompassing portrait of André Leon Talley - formidable potentate in the world of style, right-hand-man to Vogue's Anna Wintour, and longtime protégé of the legendary editor Diana Vreeland - details his struggle as a gay black man scaling the heights in the elite and once all-white sub-culture of international fashion. A flamboyant presence and expansive raconteur, Talley, who was raised by his grandmother in Durham, NC, credits her sense of propriety and the high style of Southern black church-goers in their Sunday best as the influences that profoundly shaped his world view. Earning an advanced degree in French literature at Brown, he got his foot in the door in New York by answering phones at Warhol's Interview magazine and volunteering for Vreeland's Costume Institute at the Met. As his eye for style made him indispensable, Talley used his power to advocate for black models and designers, as testified by the film's interviews with Naomi Campbell, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Tom Ford, Diana Ross, Karl Lagerfeld, Whoopi Goldberg, and more. DCP digital. (BS)
Ganja & Hess
1973, Bill Gunn, USA, 112 min. With Duane Jones, Marlene Clark.
"Certainly the most original and intellectually ambitious of all blaxploitation films of the 70s." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"Bill Gunn's epochal indie lulu...so elusive and bloody and challenging a picture that it's every bit as overwhelming now as it must have been when it won the critics' prize at Cannes in '73." - Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
Considered a milestone of both the blaxploitation and vampire genres but too contrary to nest comfortably under either label, GANJA AND HESS (which never uses the word "vampire") was acclaimed at Cannes, then butchered and badly distributed before finally emerging as a revered cult classic. Elegant anthropology professor Dr. Hess Green (Jones of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) is infected with a blood-hunger curse through an ancient African dagger wielded by his assistant (Gunn), who soon commits suicide. The assistant's assertive wife Ganja (Clark) shows up, initiates a passionate affair with Hess, and joins him in blood-drinking bliss until his religious awakening comes between them. Characteristically for Gunn, the plot accounts for only a fraction of the film's rich tapestry. Shifting gears every few minutes and packed with disturbing and provocative images, GANJA AND HESS is a disorienting and haunting experience. Spike Lee's 2015 remake DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS only enhanced critics' memories of the more potent original, and this new 4K restoration follows decades of truncated versions and fuzzy transfers. New 4K DCP digital restoration. (MR)