The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat
2017, Sara Driver, USA, 78 min.
"More than does justice to its acknowledged subject…conveying his personal magnetism, eccentricity and non-stop creativity without romanticizing him." - John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
"Vivid and beautifully meditative memory piece on the downtown New York art and music scene of the late 1970s and early '80s." - Chris Barsanti, The Playlist
Director Driver (WHEN PIGS FLY, YOU ARE NOT I) captures the wild, raw spirit of the young unknown Jean-Michel Basquiat through the memories and tales of friends and occasional lovers, who knew him not as the lionized art luminary on par with Andy Warhol, but as the eccentric homeless teenager struggling alongside them to eke out an existence on the desolate streets of lower Manhattan in the late-1970s. Unlike earlier films on Basquiat (including Julian Schnabel's fictionalized BASQUIAT and Tamra Davis' documentary JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD) this haunting portrait spreads its net wide, putting the tagger and enfant-terrible-to-be in the gritty context of an economically ravaged city, where a new avant-garde art and music culture was being born on alley walls, in pop-up galleries, and in venues like the Mudd Club and Club 57. Interviews include former Basquiat roommate and collector extraordinaire Alexis Adler, hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy, graffiti artist Lee Quiñones, and filmmakers Driver, James Nare, and Jim Jarmusch. DCP digital. (BS)
Did You Wonder Who Fired The Gun?
2017, Travis Wilkerson, USA, 90 min.
"Incendiary…one of the most powerful reckonings in recent American cinema." - Jordan Cronk, Sight and Sound
"Intense, mesmerizing, and heartbreaking…It's hard not to experience DID YOU WONDER WHO FIRED THE GUN? and not get shivers up your spine - from fear, from anger, and from the beauty of Wilkerson's filmmaking." - Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
Poised between experiment and agit-prop, the documentaries of Travis Wilkerson (AN INJURY TO ONE) channel the grand tradition of American radicalism. A sensation at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, DID YOU WONDER WHO FIRED THE GUN? fuses Southern Gothic, fiery sermon, and film-noir detective story into a spellbinding personal/political testament. After participating in protests against the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's killer, the filmmaker is driven to exhume a skeleton in his own family closet: the 1946 shooting of an African American man in Dothan, Alabama, by Wilkerson's great-grandfather, who was let off on a flimsy self-defense plea. Wilkerson sets out to investigate a case still veiled in in fear and secrecy, driving down racism-haunted Alabama roads as he follows a twisted trail that takes in a white supremacist aunt, Civil War reenactments, an unmarked grave, a rape investigation by pre-boycott Rosa Parks, the 1963 murder of white civil rights activist William Moore, and the mythic image of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD's Atticus Finch. But, as Wilkerson warns us, "This isn't another white savior story. This is a white nightmare story." DCP digital. (MR)