The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
Owned, A Tale of Two Americas
2018, Giorgio Angelini, USA, 83 min.
“Holy smokes this is good…it’s fun to watch, it’s fascinating and amazing.”--Chris Hayes, NBC
The dark side of the middle class ideal of home ownership, a bedrock component of the
American Dream, is explored with briskly-paced verve, giving this twisty tale of myth-making,
entrenched racism, and financial manipulation an urgent vibrancy. The explosive growth of
post-WWII suburbia, exemplified by developments like Levittown, launched legions of returning
white G.I.s into a class upgrade that made them lords of the lawnmower and backyard grill,
while minorities were simultaneously being barred from the giddy prosperity party of the Fifties
by practices that included extensive redlining and covenant deeds that mandated racial and ethnic
exclusions. Director Angelini (producer of MY FRIEND DAHMER) moves forward through
the decades to link house flipping, the McMansion craze, underwater mortgages, and the 2008
crash with the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. DCP digital. (BS)
Life and Nothing More
2017, Antonio Méndez Esparza, USA, 114 min.
"One of the year's most essential films...Like BOYHOOD and MOONLIGHTING before it, here is a film that is committed to doing justice to the drama of everyday life, finding poetry in the familiar."--Peter Debruge, Variety
"A vital, singularly crafted film...speaks volumes about our country's ongoing state of racism, poverty and criminal injustice, without didacticism or pandering."--Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
The recipient of rave reviews and the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award, LIFE
AND NOTHING MORE is an impressive successor to the great tradition of hard-headed,
heartfelt social realism practiced by Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, the Dardenne Brothers, and
Charles Burnett. For his second feature, Spanish-born director Esparza immersed himself
in the Northern Florida milieu where he was living, picked local nonprofessionals to play
characters partly based on themselves, and let them improvise around a rough outline.
The result is a searingly authentic story of a struggling African American family: father
in prison, mother working minimum wage while raising a 3-year-old daughter and a 14-
year-old son. The loosely plotted narrative centers on the mother Regina (Regina
Williams in a revelatory performance) and the son Anthony, the former fiercely
(sometimes too fiercely) devoted to keeping Anthony from following in his father's
footsteps, the latter pushed toward the edge when he locks horns with his mother's new
live-in boyfriend. Esparza observes his characters with unsentimental compassion,
carefully linking their personal problems with the pressures of class and color that will
test both their vulnerability and their resilience. DCP digital. (MR)