The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
2018, Wanuri Kahiu, Kenya/South Africa/France, 82 min.
With Samantha Mugatsia, Sheila Munyiva
“Chemistry that perfectly encapsulates the exhilarating rush of romance and first love…the neon-pink romance RAFIKI is exactly what the world needs.”--Katy Moon, One Room with a View
“A fully black, beautiful, lesbian love story…colorful, warm, and real.”--Joi Childs, Shadow and Act
Banned in its home nation of Kenya just prior to its international premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, RAFIKI dares to confront African cultural, religious, and legal taboos in order to celebrate the star-crossed but passionately inevitable love story of two young Kenyan women. With political rival fathers running against each other for public office, tomboy Kena (Mugatsia) and pink-braided fashion-conscious Zika (Munyiva) find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide. They are drawn together nevertheless, with a conspicuous magnetism that will rile Kena’s religiously devout mother and Zika’s powerful and vengeful father, and set tongues wagging maliciously in Nairobi’s Slopes neighborhood. Basing her script on the story “Jambala Tree” by Ugandan author Monica Arac de Nyeko, director Kahiu communicates the irrepressible joy of first love, even as her heroines bravely choose to face the consequences of being different. In English and Swahili with English subtitles. DCP digital widescreen. (BS)
The Gospel of Eureka
2018, Donal Mosher and Michael Palmieri, USA, 75 min.
“Meditative and fabulous in equal measure…consistently surprising in a way that makes you see this world anew.”--Bilge Ebiri, Vulture
“An idealistic crowd-pleaser…this beautiful and beautifully shot documentary is a cure for the angry headline blues.”--Amy Nicholson, Variety
Biblical pageants and queer lounge acts don’t often go hand in hand, except as seen in this pre-Easter joy of a documentary exploring the unusually accepting culture of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a town that plays host equally to conservative Christians and gender-fluid folk. The Christ of the Ozarks statue, ironically commissioned in 1966 by a bigot, towers over Eureka Springs, home to an extravagant open-air Passion Play six months of the year, as well as to the largest LGBT population in the Bible Belt. An evening spent watching Jesus’s crucifixion is often followed by dancing at the Eureka Live Underground, the popular bar owned by a married gay Christian couple, where drag queens lip-sync Gospel hits right along with secular fare. Through the stories and experiences of longtime residents, and a heaping helping of behind- the-scenes views of the town’s famously flamboyant and effects-heavy play, the filmmakers explore the unique blend of influences that have made acceptance the byword in Eureka, just as a vote on transgender bathroom use looms. DCP digital. (BS)