The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
2017, Jonas Carpignano, Italy, 118 min. With Pio Amato, Koudous Seihon.
“An unusually volatile coming-of-age story…[Carpignano] might be one of the world’s most vital filmmakers.” — David Ehrlich, Indiewire
“A compelling and accomplished film. The world is so realized that I felt as if I was living alongside its characters.” — Martin Scorsese
Italy’s official submission for Oscar consideration, A CIAMBRA incorporates the gritty authenticity of neorealism, the kinetic energy of early Scorsese (who exec-produced the film), and the moral urgency of the Dardenne brothers into a distinctively personal vision of modern, volatilely multicultural Europe. Like director Carpignano’s acclaimed first feature MEDITERRANEA, the film set in the Calabrian coastal town of Gioia Tauro, this time shifting the ethnic focus from recent African immigrants to similarly marginalized Romani, and centering the story on the Roma boy Pio Amato, who had a scene-stealing supporting role as a precocious hustler in MEDITERRANEA. Now fourteen and growing up too fast, Pio is eager to follow his older brother Cosimo in the manly arts of burglary and car theft. When his brother and father are both jailed, Pio readily steps into their shoes as the chief breadwinner of the large, boisterous Amato clan, finding a more suitable mentor in his African neighbor Aviya (one of the central characters in MEDITERRANEA) and an alternative family in Aviya’s African community. Then his brother and father return from prison, and Pio finds himself suspended between two worlds, faced with a difficult decision that pits family loyalty against his newfound growth as a human being. In Italian with English subtitles. DCP digital. (MR)
2017, John Trengove, South Africa, 88 min. With Nakhane Touré, Niza Jay.
“A terse ethnographic thriller…nuanced and deeply probing.” — David Ehrlich, Indiewire
“As emotionally and dramatically compelling as any American indie to come out this year. Seek it out on the big screen.” — Eli Fine, The Playlist
Short-listed for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, this powerful first feature from South Africa uses a traditional manhood ritual as the stage for a complex personal drama and a probing critique of cultural perceptions of masculinity. Young men of the Xhosa ethnic group are subjected to a initiation rite that involves circumcision and a wilderness retreat under the supervision of older caregivers. One of the caregivers, Xolani, uses the yearly ritual as a cover for his closeted (and, in his homophobic culture, potentially dangerous) relationship with the macho family man Vila. The wild card in this ongoing arrangement is Xolani’s new initiate Kwala: rich, urban, sophisticated, comfortably gay, and openly critical of the whole procedure and its linking of manhood with heteronormativity. He quickly figures out Xolani and Vila’s relationship, endangering their secret and, unwittingly, his own safety. In Xhosa, Afrikaans, and English with English subtitles. DCP digital widescreen. (MR)