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Best of Black Harvest West 2019

    The Black Harvest Film Festival, presented each year by the Gene Siskel Film Center, is the Midwest’s largest and longest-running festival dedicated to telling stories of the Black experience.

    The Best of Black Harvest Film Festival West will give audiences the opportunity to experience films made by emerging and established Black filmmakers, some of whom will appear with their work, to share personal experiences and to provide input on the creative process, enhancing arts education, informing audiences about the breadth of the movie industry, and inspiring a new generation of artists.

    This program is sponsored by Allstate in partnership with BBF Family Services (formerly known as Better Boys Foundation).

    There will be screenings presented in April through May; all screenings are free and open to the public, light refreshments will be served.

    Seating is first-come first-served, until capacity is reached.

  • All screenings will be on Fridays at 6pm at BBF Family Services, 1512 S. Pulaski

    Friday, April 5


    2018, Juliane Dressner and Edwin Martinez, 88 min.

    This inspiring documentary follows three minority student leaders through their high school senior year as they face personal challenges to college acceptance, even while working to motivate their peers to apply. Enoch, a football player with the potential for an athletic scholarship, lives with his sister and struggles to bring up his low grade-point average while his mother resides in a homeless shelter. Dominican American Christine meets with family resistance to her college plans. Karoline, an LGBTQ student, has been subjected to bullying and harassment while overcoming academic obstacles. The three forge a new path as counselors to their classmates, providing motivational guidance to college application, even as their own futures hang in the balance. DCP digital. (BS)

    Friday, April 12


    2018, Pamela Sherrod Anderson, USA, 58 min.
    Special Guest: Pamela Sherrod Anderson will be in person for post-film discussion.

    With the rising trend of grandparents stepping in to raise their children’s children when birth parents are unable, director Anderson (THE CURATORS OF DIXON SCHOOL) explores the phenomenon through the challenges, concerns, and joys of two unique Chicago families headed by grandmothers. “Grandma will tell you when you are wrong,” declares peppery Ellen Robinson, who dotes with pride on teen grandson Patrick, even as she firmly models old-school values and insists on details like grace before meals. Grandmother Georgeanne Fischetti, who has raised young granddaughter Martha from birth, provides a home filled with warmth and laughter, and a surrogate granddad in her partner Bob. Love is the overriding message, but these loving elder parents also seek advice and peer support, and the film includes a profile of Evanston’s Second Chance Grandparent Writing Group, as well as interviews with experts in legal and social services in the field. HDCAM video. (BS)

    Friday, April 26



    2017, Thembi L. Banks, USA, 15 min.

    Recognizing the difference between love and friendship on prom night requires a leap of faith for two BFFs. (BS)


    2018, Shayla Racquel, USA, 19 min.

    A family's tradition of activism comes full circle, but not without triggering fears on the part of the older generation. (BS)


    2017, Donna Augustin and Talibah L. Newman, USA, 19 min.

    A convenience-store owner instigates a confrontation with a regular Black customer and gets pushback from unexpected quarters in this snappy, satiric look at racism. (BS)

    Friday, May 3


    2018, David Weathersby, USA, 60 min.
    Special Guest: Filmmaker David Weathersby will be in person for post-film discussion.

    Director Weathersby, whose survey of the Neo-Soul movement GOT THE LOVE screened at the 2017 BHFF, returns with another account of grass-roots creativity in Chicago's African American community. With a lack of support from academia and the art establishment, Black artists have historically struggled for respect and recognition. This lively and informative documentary explores the present-day renaissance of Black art in Chicago, centered on neighborhoods such as Bronzeville and organizations such as the South Side Community Arts Center and the Hyde Park Art Center. Diverse and talented artists such as RJ Eldridge, Shyvette Williams, and Jesse Howard are profiled, but, rather than focusing on isolated creators, the film examines the ecosystem of artists, gallery owners, curators, and collectors that sustains the movement. There is a special emphasis on the relationships between artists and collectors, which are especially close and crucial in the Black arts movement. ProRes digital. (MR)

    Friday, May 10


    Special Guest: Sanicole Young will be in person for a post-film discussion.


    2018, Sanicole, USA, 15 min.

    A father needs to prove himself when his little girl's bike is stolen. (MR)


    2017, DuBois Ashong, USA, 25 min.

    A water-delivery truck driver finds himself caught between the authorities and the activists as a massive drought intensifies class divisions in Los Angeles. (MR)


    2017, Jarrett Woo, USA, 15 min.

    Dazzling special effects and magical realism enhance this tale of a ten-year-old boy in post-revolution Los Angeles. (MR)

    Friday, May 17


    2018, Nick Budabin, USA, 82 min.
    Facilitator: Rufus Williams, President and Chief Executive Officer of BBF Family Services, will lead the post-film discussion.

    "An intimate and involving portrait...the 82-minute CHI-TOWN compensates for its size by making every shot count." — David Ehrlich, Indiewire

    A documentary about a basketball hopeful from a disadvantaged South Side neighborhood is bound to draw comparisons to HOOP DREAMS, but this compelling portrait of former Marshall High star Keifer Sykes carves out its own identity. The film's five-year saga begins with the charismatic Sykes winding up his illustrious high-school career and heading for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Only 5'11", Sykes uses dazzling moves and amazing vertical launch to forge a record-breaking career at Green Bay, but the height factor becomes more critical when he tries to break into the NBA. The most significant difference between HOOP DREAMS and CHI- TOWN is that the latter takes place in the age of THE INTERRUPTERS. The contrast between Sykes's sheltered campus life and his violence-plagued hometown neighborhood becomes increasingly acute as friends, teammates, and even his coach are felled by incarceration and gunfire. TV veteran Budabin's superbly edited first feature maintains a propulsive energy while striking a fine balance between exciting court action, intimate character study, and wider social context. DCP digital. (MR)