The Gene Siskel Film Center presents programming in the spirit of the Black Harvest Film Festival all year long!
2017, Warwick Thornton, Australia, 113 min. With Hamilton Morris, Bryan Brown, Sam Neill.
"Thornton wrings from this fable of rough frontier justice a statement from the heart. Australia now has its HIGH NOON." - Nick Dent, Time Out New York
"A searing indictment of frontier racism as remarkable for its sonic restraint as its visual expansiveness." - Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
Revisiting the racial battlefield of classic westerns both American (especially THE SEARCHERS) and Australian (especially THE CHANT OF JIMMIE BLACKSMITH), SWEET COUNTRY is a riveting, fact-based drama of injustice framed against starkly beautiful widescreen landscapes. Based on real events of the 1920s, the story centers on the pursuit and trial of an Aboriginal farmer who kills a white man in self-defense. Indigenous director Thornton (who also photographed the film) uses the incident to draw a non-simplistic but damning spectrum of a racist society, from the virulent World War I veteran who attacks the accused man to an enlightened but ultimately ineffectual preacher (Neill), with many darker shades of gray in between (including a shrewd riff on the John Wayne image by BREAKER MORANT's Bryan Brown). The film's many powerful scenes include a chilling act of violation conveyed by a gradual gathering of darkness, and an outdoor screening of the pioneer 1906 film THE STORY OF THE KELLY GANG, with the crowd cheering on the bad guys. In English and Arrernte with English subtitles. DCP digital widescreen. (MR)
Grace Jones: Bloodlight And Bami
2017, Sophie Fiennes, Ireland/UK, 115 min.
"The documentary is a feat of portraiture and a restoration of humanity. It's got the uncanny, the sublime, and, in many spots, a combination of both." - Wesley Morris, The New York Times
"A sumptuous sensory treat...Jones gives great diva for the camera." - Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter
As demonstrated by her previous films on Slavoj Žižek (THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA) and Anselm Kiefer (OVER YOUR CITIES THE GRASS SHALL GROW), Sophie Fiennes knows how to tailor a film to a cultural icon. She rises to the occasion again with this fittingly unconventional portrait of the ageless diva of androgynous glam, Grace Jones. This is no career retrospective filled with archival clips and talking heads. Instead, the tense is immersively present, and our proximity to Jones is all-access. Filmed and edited over a period of twelve years, the film uses as its spine a visit by Jones to her family in Jamaica, where she dines on bami, goes to church, and recalls the abusively strict religious upbringing that helped to define her steely stage persona. These scenes are interwoven with round-the-world glimpses of Jones recording (that's where "bloodlight" comes in), relaxing, negotiating, battling with producers and hotel managers, and performing electrifying live versions of such legendary favorites as "La Vie en Rose," "Pull Up to the Bumper, "Warm Leatherette," and "Slave to the Rhythm" (while twirling a hula hoop!). DCP digital. (MR)