The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
2018, Marilyn Ness, USA, 107 min.
“There’s plenty to make you catch your breath…Captures up close the way violence transforms neighborhoods and families with an immediacy that transcends headlines or sensationalism.”--Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
“Simultaneously harrowing and nuanced…a gripping film that deserves more exposure.”--Christian Gallichio, The Playlist
Baltimore’s rough inner city, where gunfire and violent death are everyday occurrences, is the setting for this searing documentary that follows the street-level path of an activist, a cop, and a firebrand city council member, each creating a sphere of influence in the urban war zone made notorious by "The Wire." Mr. C, a grizzled veteran of the streets who operates a homemade community center; Monique, a veteran cop from the neighborhood; and Brandon Scott, a young black council member with grassroots ideas, disseminate tough love and compassion, and ignite a small spark of hope, even as their own lives are shadowed by adversity and loss. Filming over three years, director Ness finds pathos, empathy, and a resolve to persevere in a city ravaged by drugs, murder, and gang warfare, while her camera finds incongruous moments of beauty, peace, and celebration. DCP digital. (BS)
2018, Amanda Kopp and Aaron Kopp, Swaziland/Qatar/USA, 77 min.
“Deeply moving…a lyrical work that’s as bright and captivating as it is poignant.”--Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
“Powerful…brilliant dramatic fairytale on par with any Pixar flick.”--Iquo B. Essien, Shadow and Act
The powerful magic of African storytelling tradition and the hard realities of poverty, epidemic, and violent conflict merge for a documentary-fiction hybrid tale stirringly and triumphantly fashioned by children. On an orphanage farm in Swaziland, South African storyteller Gcina Mhlophe leads five young orphans through the dynamic creation of an adventure story that will provide an outlet for channeling the trials, travails, and obstacles of their own young lives. The heroine they invent is Liyana--a fierce, brave girl of their own age, who sets out on a treacherous journey to rescue her twin baby brothers from child traffickers after her parents die of AIDS. Through gripping narration by the young authors, alternating with animation combining 3D sculpted characters and sumptuously rendered 2D backdrops that colorfully evoke the Swazi landscape and culture, Liyana comes to life, to cross jungle and desert, endure hunger, pain and sorrow, and bravely face the perils of crocodiles, hyenas, monsters, and thieves. Executive produced by Thandie Newton. DCP digital widescreen. (BS)