The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
Strike a Rock
2017, Aliki Saragas, South Africa, 87 min.
In 2012, workers striking for more humane conditions at South Africa’s Lonmin platinum mine are set upon by police, and 37 are massacred. This shocking event mobilized the women of the Marikana community to action in pursuit of justice--a quest related in this inspiring documentary. Primrose and Thumeka, grandmothers and longtime best friends, come to the fore as powerfully respected elders pursuing roles as catalysts bringing together the women of their impoverished makeshift town in the new organization Sikhala Sonke (We Cry Together). Primrose runs for Parliament and wins, taking their concerns national, while Thumeka remains the prime mover locally, addressing the Lonmin company’s massive default on legal obligations to build worker housing and provide a living wage. Now separated by distance and a differing focus of responsibilities, will their combined efforts on behalf of a still-struggling community prevail against the forces arrayed against them? Co-presented with Human Rights Watch, Chicago. ProRes digital. (BS)
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)