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Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video 2014
20ème édition

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Le festival International du film Black Harvest est le principal événement centré sur les films des diasporas africaines à Chicago.

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The Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video is Chicago’s
annual showcase for films of the African diaspora.


20th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival

From August 1 through 28, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents the 20th anniversary edition of the Black Harvest Film Festival, celebrating the stories, images, heritage, and history of the black experience in the U.S. and around the world. It’s been an incredible twenty years and counting. Many of our early discoveries have gone on to become established career filmmakers, while new, emerging filmmakers are just now making their mark. This anniversary festival is bigger and more diverse than ever, with personal appearances by filmmakers at almost every show.

Get in the swing of celebration on opening night, Friday, August 1, when NBC 5’s LeeAnn Trotter MCs A Black Harvest Feast. Included is the presentation of this year’s Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in Community Leadership to Chaz Ebert and (posthumously) Roger Ebert for their work in advancing minority and independent filmmaking-efforts which Chaz tirelessly continues through RogerEbert.com. Join us after the show, when neighbors and partners The Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Sinfonietta help us throw an unforgettable 20th anniversary party at Joffrey Tower.

Our August 28 closing night will be equally memorable when we premiere Norry Niven’s FROM ABOVE starring Danny Glover. Check our web site for exciting updates on personal appearances for this evening, and add our closing night party sponsored by Whole Foods Market to your calendar now.

As we go to press, more than thirty filmmakers are confirmed to be present for discussion at screenings. Appearances range from famed director/actor Bill Duke with a screening of a 35mm print of his 1991 classic A RAGE IN HARLEM to current and former Chicago-based directors including: Josh MacNeal (THE 4TH MEETING), Daniel Nearing (HOGTOWN), Deri Tyton (FINDING FOREVER IN LOVE), and Derek Dow (CONDOMS).

Kevin Willmott, director of last year’s hit DESTINATION: PLANET NEGRO!, returns with the basketball-themed JAYHAWKERS. Director Rob Underhill, another Black Harvest alum, appears with DAR HE: THE LYNCHING OF EMMETT TILL, which features a tour-de-force performance by actor Mike Wiley in 39 roles. Elzbieta Szoka discusses THAT DAUGHTER’S CRAZY, her profile of Rain Pryor, while Maia Weschler appears with her political documentary MELVIN & JEAN: AN AMERICAN STORY, and Lacey Schwartz drops in via Skype to discuss her very personal documentary LITTLE WHITE LIE.

Two special events are designed with the aspiring or beginning filmmaker in mind. The August 10 free workshop The Realities of Screenwriting will provide valuable tips. On August 16, Action! The Real Deal About Filmmaking: Money, Casting, Production, and Distribution, this year’s edition of the free, ever-popular Black Harvest panel and DIY workshop, will cover every aspect of production and feature down-to-earth advice and practical information from our guest producers and directors.

Enjoy the art exhibit Fresh Juju, curated by Rashayla Marie Brown, in our gallery/café throughout the festival.

All films are eligible for the Black Harvest Audience Award; ballots are available in our lobby.

The Black Harvest Film Festival is supported by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Special thanks to festival consultant Sergio Mims, our Black Harvest Community Council, and to the many filmmakers who help make this festival possible.

-Barbara Scharres

Opening Night Celebration
Join Master of Ceremonies LeeAnn Trotter of NBC 5 Chicago for the opening night celebration. The Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in Community Leadership will be presented to Chaz Ebert and (posthumously) Roger Ebert. Immediately following the show, the audience is invited to join our celebrity guests for a reception across the street at Joffrey Tower (10 E. Randolph St.), home of The Joffrey Ballet Chicago, with music by Musicians of the Chicago Sinfonietta.

Friday, August 1, 6:15 pm

Black Harvest Film Festival passes are available for purchase now! 6 films and 6 small popcorns for only ! A savings! Available in person at the box office only.

Check out the Black Harvest Film Festival passport, with discounts from local hotels and restaurants!

Showtimes
Fri, Aug 1st at 6:15pm


Opening night films!

A Black Harvest Feast
2013-14, Various directors, USA/UK/Martinique, 73 min.
Enjoy a sneak preview of the 2014 « harvest » through six short films. In Delmar Washington’s CHRIS’S BRISS (2013, 12 min.), a recently engaged man discovers that love cuts both ways. Schizophrenia results in a wildly imaginative ride on a London bus in Oliver Azis’s FRAYED (2013, 9 min.). In Elizabeth Myer’s STRANGE FRUIT (2014, 12 min.). a 1930 Indiana lynching is rousingly repurposed. Two beauties spar over opposing views of love in THE WAY YOU LOVE by Lydia Darly (2014, 10 min.). A schoolboy’s vision of the future gives his teacher a colorful lesson in reality in VIVRE by Maharaki (2013, 13 min.). Derrick Sanders’s PERFECT DAY (2013, 17 min.) takes a charming high school romance to another level. Various formats. (BS, MR)

Directors Delmar Washington (CHRIS’S BRISS), and, tentatively, Derrick Sanders (PERFECT DAY) will be present.

Join Master of Ceremonies LeeAnn Trotter of NBC 5 Chicago for the opening night celebration. The Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in Community Leadership will be presented to Chaz Ebert and (posthumously) Roger Ebert. Immediately following the show, the audience is invited to join our celebrity guests for a reception across the street at Joffrey Tower (10 E. Randolph St.), home of The Joffrey Ballet Chicago, with music by Musicians of the Chicago Sinfonietta. You must have a ticket stub from A Black Harvest Feast to attend the reception.

Special admission prices for this program: General Admission ; Students ; Members . Proceeds from this screening benefit the educational programs of the Gene Siskel Film Center. No free passes, blue tickets, or « Black Harvest » festival passes will be valid for this screening.
Showtimes: Thu, Aug 28th at 6:30pm

Closing night film!
Filmmakers in person!
FROM ABOVE (aka CHASING SHAKESPEARE)
2013, Norry Niven, USA, 112 min.
With Danny Glover, Mike Wade, Chelsea Ricketts, Clarence Gilyard, Jr.

« A unique take on ‘Romeo and Juliet’ blended with some crazy Native American folklore…a wild and heartfelt story. »
-Jory Carroll, Slug Magazine

The love of a lifetime strikes with the force of lightning in this magic realist tale steeped in Native American myth and the poetic power of Shakespeare. The story unreels in flashback as William Ward (Glover in one of his best roles in years) and his cherished wife Venus face a climactic meeting of the heavens and the earth one stormy night. Young William (Wade) long ago fell for Native American Venus (Ricketts), would-be star of a small-town « Romeo and Juliet, » but her Lightning Clan ancestors set a course of trials for the impulsive African American suitor, not least of which is coming to terms with her Broadway ambitions. DCP digital. (BS)

Actors Mike Wade, Clarence Gilyard, Jr., and tentatively, Danny Glover and will be present for audience discussion. Immediately following the show, there will be a reception hosted by Whole Foods Market.

No free passes, blue tickets, or « Black Harvest » festival passes will be valid for this screening.
Showtimes: Sat, Aug 2nd at 8:30pm / Wed, Aug 6th at 8:30pm

Chicago connection!
Filmmakers in person!
Shorts Program:
Made in Chicago
2013-2014, Various directors, USA, 77 min.
Five films featuring Chicago talent: In Derek Dow’s tense and twisty CONDOMS (2014, 11 min.), the title item sparks discord between a couple. In Lonnie Edwards’s impressionistic PARIETAL GUIDANCE (2014, 14 min.), a young girl’s daily journey to and from school exposes her to both threat and kindness. In Marion McMillan’s heartfelt CROSSING JORDAN (2014, 19 min.), a female pastor’s unholy past threatens her future. In Jessica Murphy and Elissa Nadwerny’s effective documentary TAKING OVER, TAKING BACK (2013, 16 min.), an anti-eviction movement fights to save a neighborhood. Derrick Sanders’s PERFECT DAY (2013, 17 min.) takes a charming high school romance to another level. Various formats. (MR)

Directors Derek Dow (CONDOMS) and Lonnie Edwards (PARIETAL GUIDANCE) will be present for audience discussion at both screenings; Derrick Sanders (PERFECT DAY) on Saturday only.
Showtimes: Sun, Aug 3rd at 5:15pm / Mon, Aug 4th at 8:00pm

Kevin Willmott in person!
JAYHAWKERS
2014, Kevin Willmott, USA, 106 min.
With Justin Wesley, Kip Niven
This expertly recreated historical drama tells the story of basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain’s epochal early years at the University of Kansas. The first « big man » to be considered a great athlete, Chamberlain led the Jayhawks to the 1957 NCAA Championship Game with UNC-one of the greatest battles in sports history. He also created fireworks off the court, openly dating white women and defying « Whites Only » prohibitions. Director Willmott (DESTINATION: PLANET NEGRO!) deftly situates an exciting sports saga within the larger context of the burgeoning Civil Rights movement. As Chamberlain, real-life KU hoopster Justin Wesley combines athletic skill with authentic acting ability. DCP digital widescreen. (MR)

Director Kevin Willmott will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

ABC 7 Chicago Sports Anchor Jim Rose will moderate the August 3rd discussion.

NBC 5 Chicago’s Siafa Lewis will moderate the August 4th discussion.

Showtimes: Mon, Aug 4th at 6:00pm

Shorts Program:
Black History-Lost and Found
2012-2014, Various directors, USA/South Africa, 90 min.

Four thought-provoking films with historical themes: In Elizabeth Myer’s STRANGE FRUIT (2014, 12 min.), a 1930 Indiana lynching is rousingly repurposed. Samantha Knowles’s WHY DO YOU HAVE BLACK DOLLS? (2012, 25 min.) combines nostalgia and politics in exploring the world of black-doll collectors. In the personal documentary DANCING LIKE HOME (2013, 31 min.), American filmmaker Joyce Guy journeys to Senegal in search of the roots of African dance. In Shane Vermooten’s FREEDOM ROAD (2013, South Africa, 22 min.), Truth Commission hearings are the trigger for a powerful drama of forgiveness. Various formats. (MR)
Showtimes: Tue, Aug 5th at 8:15pm / Wed, Aug 6th at 6:15pm

Chicago connection
Maia Wechsler in person!
MELVIN & JEAN: AN AMERICAN STORY
2012, Maia Wechsler, USA, 60 min.

« Masterful…not to be missed. »
-Richard Z, Chesnoff, Huffington Post

In 1972, as an act of protest against the Vietnam War, Melvin and Jean McNair hijacked a plane from Detroit to Algeria to join Eldridge Cleaver and the Black Panthers. Their dreams of a revolutionary utopia and freedom from racial oppression were soon burst by the grim political and economic realities of the aftermath. Filmmaker Wechsler (SISTERS IN RESISTANCE) movingly chronicles their reflections on the past and their ongoing struggle toward reparation and repatriation from their home in France, where they’ve lived as model citizens for forty years. DigiBeta video.

Preceded by FREEDOM ROAD by Shane Vermooten (2013, South Africa, 22 min.). Forgiveness is an unearned gift in this moving tale set in the aftermath of apartheid. DVCAM video. (BS)

Director Maia Wechsler (MELVIN & JEAN) will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.
Showtimes: Thu, Aug 7th at 8:00pm
Chicago connection!
Panel discussion!

LORD THING
THE CORNER

LORD THING
1970, DeWitt Beall, USA, 52 min.

THE CORNER
1963, Robert Ford, USA, 26 min.

Chicago Film Archives has restored two remarkable « lost » films that shed new light on an overlooked chapter of Chicago history: the role of gangs in West Side neighborhoods in the 1950s and 1960s, especially the organization known as the Vice Lords and, later, the Conservative Vice Lords. LORD THING in particular qualifies as a major rediscovery, not only for its eye-opening subject matter, but also for its dynamic style-an urgent mosaic of speeches, recollections, on-the-spot footage, and vigorously staged rumbles. Spawned by poverty and police harassment, the Lords eventually turned from destructive street violence to constructive social activism, only to be targeted by the Daley administration as a political and economic threat. Preceded by THE CORNER, which uses a collage of voices to accompany evocative images of gang-dominated life at the corner of Lake and Holman. Co-presented by Chicago Film Archives; special thanks to Nancy Watrous. Both in 16mm. (MR)

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring youth-violence expert Dr. Lance Williams of Northeastern Illinois University; street-gang prevention specialist Benneth Lee of the National Alliance For The Empowerment of The Formerly Incarcerated; and prison-reform advocate Cynthia Kobel of Second Chance Initiative.

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Showtimes
Fri, Aug 8th at 6:30pm
Sat, Aug 9th at 8:15pm


Chicago connection!
Filmmakers in person!

FINDING FOREVER IN LOVE
2014, Deri Tyton, USA, 72 min.
With Tyrell Crawford, Dan-Neika Clay

Former Chicagoan and BHFF veteran Tyton (TOOT’S AND BLOW’S, THE PARTY LINE) returns with a grown-up romantic drama featuring a likeable but immature protagonist. Transplanted from Chicago to Atlanta, Preach (Crawford) is a talented poet whose inability to get over his fondness for weed or his grief for his late girlfriend Gail inhibits both his writing career and his current relationship with the mature and challenging Arika (Clay). The arrival of a Chicago friend carrying a dangerous secret brings Preach to a crossroads where he must find-or lose-his destiny. As in his previous films, Tyton’s easygoing, actor-friendly approach pays off richly in character authenticity and development. DigiBeta video. (MR)

Director Deri Tyton and selected cast and crew members will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

nUM yUMMIES will provide chocolate and Love Cork Screw will host a wine tasting before the screening on Friday.

Zondra Hughes creator of Six Brown Chicks (seen on OWN) will host and moderate the post-screening discussion on Saturday.

Showtimes
Fri, Aug 8th at 8:30pm
Thu, Aug 14th at 8:30pm

Chicago connection
Filmmakers in person!

THE 4TH MEETING
2013, Josh MacNeal, USA, 67 min.
With Malynda Hale, Aayisha Chanel

In their first feature, the Chicago-based brother-sister team Josh MacNeal and Cy Weisman craft an intriguing character study that avoids stereotypical characters and screenwriting clichés. Diana (Hale), a successful career woman, has been struggling with survivor guilt since the death of her husband in an auto accident. She takes out her anger on her wayward younger sister (Chanel), but, as flashbacks reveal, Diana has a few skeletons in her own closet. The smartly written screenplay keeps us on our toes by adding new twists and characters that continually redefine the situation, until the pieces fall into place with a devastating mixture of catharsis and irony. HDCAM video. (MR)

Director Josh MacNeal and writer/producer Cy Weisman will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.
Showtimes: Sun, Aug 10th at 1:00pm

Festival workshop
Free admission!

The Realities of Screenwriting
Thinking about writing a screenplay? Get the real scoop on screenwriting in this free workshop conducted by our « Black Harvest » consultant, critic Sergio Mims, who’s been there, done that. In this informative session, circa 90 minutes, Mims reveals what screenwriting books don’t tell you, and why hiring those self-proclaimed writing coaches and gurus is a waste of your time and money. (BS)

Tickets available at the box office only. Seats available on a first come, first served basis.
Showtimes
Sun, Aug 10th at 6:00pm
Mon, Aug 11th at 8:15pm
Rob Underhill in person!
DAR HE: THE LYNCHING OF EMMETT TILL
2012, Rob Underhill, USA, 70 min.
With Mike Wiley

There have been numerous treatments, in various media, of the horrific 1955 murder in Money, Mississippi, of 14-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till, but none like this concise, stunning dramatization in which actor-writer Mike Wiley plays all 36 roles-black, white, male, female, young, and old. What might sound like a distracting stunt is in fact the film’s distinctive strength. Relying on subtleties of acting rather than heavy makeup, with seamless digital compositing in multi-character scenes, Wiley’s tour de force defamiliarizes the material with startling effectiveness and compels us to get under the skins of all the major players in the tragic events. HDCAM video. (MR)

Director Rob Underhill will be present for audience discussion moderated by NBC 5 Chicago Special Contributor Art Norman on Sunday, August 10.
Showtimes: Mon, Aug 11th at 6:15pm
Shorts Program:
International Visions
2012-13, Various directors, Various nations, 84 min.

Five striking films from around the globe: Schizophrenia results in a wildly imaginative ride on a London bus in Oliver Azis’s FRAYED (2013, UK, 9 min.), while a schoolboy’s vision of the future gives his teacher a colorful lesson in reality in VIVRE by Maharaki (2013, Martinique, 13 min.). Family separation brings heartache for a foster mother in Lisa Harewood’s AUNTIE (2013, Barbados, 16 min.), and a little girl faces the peril of the Darfur dessert alone in the hope of saving her family in HALEEMA by Boris Schaarschmidt (2013, Germany/USA, 18 min.). A medical researcher is the target of a sinister offer in the thriller BURNING DOWN by Jacqueline Kalimunda (2012, France, 28 min.). Various formats. (BS)

International singer/ songwriter, dancer and poet, Ugochi Nwaogwugwu (who is of Nigerian descent), will share her unique sound and creative talent before the screening on August 11.
Showtimes
Tue, Aug 12th at 8:30pm
Wed, Aug 13th at 6:15pm
Darious Britt in person!
UNSOUND
2013, Darious Britt, USA, 93 min.
With Darious Britt, Toreenee Wolf

Based on the filmmaker’s own life experience, this story of love challenged and a relationship torn and mended portrays an epic battle of wills between mother and son. Regi (Britt), a filmmaker embarking on his dream project, is pulled back into the darkness of his wily mother’s schizophrenia when she goes off her meds. As played by Toreenee Wolf in a fearless charismatic performance, mom Darolyn is an ultra-clever schemer capable of bamboozling medical staff and authorities with her charm, only to turn on her son in destructive wrath. HDCAM video. (BS)

Director Darious Britt will be present for audience discussion at both screenings. NBC 5’s LeeAnn Trotter will moderate the discussion on Wednesday, August 13.
Showtimes: Wed, Aug 13th at 8:30pm
Filmmakers in person!
Shorts Program:
Family Matters
2012-14, Various directors, USA, 87 min.

Love ‘em or simply tolerate ‘em, they’re family! Four films testify: A clueless mom and dad make a production out of telling their teens about the birds and the bees in Joel Mahr’s comedy SWADHISTHANA (2014, 20 min.). When a faithless lover does her grandma wrong, a Texan firebrand vows to set things right in RED (featuring Irma P. Hall) by Channing Godfrey Peoples (2012, 21 min.). In the period drama DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE by Dawn Kamoche (2012, 22 min.), a family crisis threatens to expose the secret of a Hollywood star passing for white. In the documentary DEEPER THAN BLACK (2013, 24 min.), filmmaker Sean Addo considers the impact of his Ghanian heritage on his life. Various formats. (BS)

Director Channing Godfrey Peoples and producer Neil Creque Williams (RED), and director Sean Addo and producer Harry Locke IV (DEEPER THAN BLACK) will be present for audience discussion.
Showtimes
Fri, Aug 15th at 6:15pm
Thu, Aug 21st at 8:15pm
Filmmakers in person!
Shorts Program: Love African American Style
2013-14, Various directors, USA/UK, 87 min.

The course of love runs anything but smooth in this provocative five-film selection. A lover lives in the realm of imagination in Zoe Sailsman-Asghar’s LONGING (2013, UK, 8 min.). Two beauties spar over opposing views of love in THE WAY YOU LOVE by Lydia Darly (2014, 10 min.). A romantic evening goes very wrong when a young frat brother listens to his buddies instead of his heart in Shadae Lamar Smith’s DIVINE RITE (2013, 19 min.). A breakup precipitates an isolationist crisis in CONTAMINATION by R. Shanea Williams (2014, 23 min.). Two friends trade identities to find out how the other half loves in Shequeta L. Smith’s comedy THE TAKEOVER (2013, 27 min.). Various formats. (BS)

Directors Lydia Darly (THE WAY YOU LOVE) and Shequeta L. Smith (THE TAKEOVER), and producer Anthony Davis (CONTAMINATION) will be present for audience discussion on Friday.
Showtimes
Fri, Aug 15th at 8:30pm
Sat, Aug 16th at 8:30pm

Rain Pryor and filmmakers in person!
THAT DAUGHTER’S CRAZY
2014, Elzbieta Szoka, USA, 58 min.

Growing up the biracial daughter of comedy legend/activist Richard Pryor wasn’t easy, as Rain Pryor demonstrates through zinging satirical impressions of her famous father, cranky, pole-opposite grandmothers, and New Age Jewish mother in her one-woman show « Fried Chicken and Latkes. » Stunningly hilarious excerpts from the show are only one dimension of this portrait that explores Rain’s present bid for a place in the treacherous world of showbiz, and a childhood spent in a fractured multi-cultural family. DCP digital.

Preceded by two shorts. In CHRIS’S BRISS by Delmar Washington (2013, USA, 12 min.), a just-engaged man discovers that love cuts both ways. In THE BATHROOM ATTENDANT by Deon H. Hayman (2013, USA, 14 min.), that deferential guy in the men’s room isn’t quite who he seems. Both in HDCAM video. (BS)

Actor Rain Pryor, director Elzbieta Szoka, and producer Daryl Sledge of THAT DAUGHTER’S CRAZY will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Raymond Lambert, President, All Jokes Aside Productions, and producer/writer of the documentary PHUNNY BUSINESS: A BLACK COMEDY, will introduce and moderate the Saturday screening.
Showtimes: Sat, Aug 16th at 5:00pm
Festival panel discussion
Free admission!
Action! The Real Deal About Filmmaking: Money, Casting, Production, and Distribution

Our « Black Harvest » panel discussion, which annually debates issues relating to black filmmaking, will dissect the process of making a film, from getting the money to casting, production, post-production, and distribution. « Black Harvest » festival consultant Sergio Mims heads up a panel of filmmakers; check our website for updates on the participants. The audience is invited to participate with questions in this provocative forum. (BS)

Tickets available at box office only. Seats available on first come, first served basis.
Showtimes
Sun, Aug 17th at 3:00pm
Mon, Aug 18th at 6:00pm
Special advance screening!
BAD HAIR (PELO MALO)
2013, Mariana Rondón, Venezuela, 93 min.
With Samantha Castillo, Samuel Lange

« Gorgeous cinematography…powerful and meaningful. »
-Mark Young, Sound on Sight

A young Latin American boy’s social and sexual identity becomes invested in the status of his ‘fro, even as it triggers a mother-son standoff. Obsessed with straightening his kinky hair, the legacy of his dead father, Junior incurs the wrath of his harried working mother with his primping and preening. He finds favor with his lonely paternal grandmother, but emulation of her favorite pop star and his innocent boy-crush on a handsome news vendor are behaviors that send ripples of homophobic fear through the dysfunctional family. Special advance screening courtesy of FiGa Films. In Spanish with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
Showtimes
Sun, Aug 17th at 5:00pm
Mon, Aug 18th at 8:00pm

Chicago connection
Filmmakers in person!
CASS
2012, Hugh Schulze, USA, 112 min.
With Rachel Hilson, Linda Boston, David Dastmalchian

Still reeling from the untimely death of her mother, fifteen-year-old Cass lives in Detroit with her little brother and their widowed dad, who’s trying to hold it all together. A vagrant takes up residence in the boarded-up house next door, and what first seems a threatening occurrence becomes a catalyst for this young girl’s ambitions as an artist when she forms an unexpected friendship and learns that there are many ways of being different. The city of Detroit in all its new creative energy and faded glory is front and center. HDCAM video. (BS)

Director Hugh Schulze and actors Rachel Hilson and Linda Boston will be present for audience discussion on Sunday. Schulze will be present on Monday.
Showtimes
Tue, Aug 19th at 6:15pm
Wed, Aug 20th at 8:15pm

Lacey Schwartz via Skype!
GSFC Movie Club!
LITTLE WHITE LIE
2014, Lacey Schwartz, USA, 66 min.

Until she was eighteen, filmmaker Lacey Schwartz grew up as a white middle-class Jewish girl whose darker skin and black hair were attributed by her parents to a mysterious olive-skinned Sicilian ancestor. In time, she uncovers the lie that haunted their marriage and made her the secret that was hiding in plain sight. Embracing her African American heritage, Schwartz begins the journey to reconcile her past and her present. HDCAM video. (BS)

Filmmaker Lacey Schwartz will be available for audience discussion via Skype following both screenings.

Gene Siskel Film Center Movie Club: Everyone likes to talk about movies, so let’s keep the conversation going! The Gene Siskel Film Center will get everyone talking with monthly film conversations. Beginning in August, audiences will be invited to informal conversations led by, but not monopolized by a carefully selected facilitator.

GSFC Movie Club, Wednesday night August 20, 8:15, LITTLE WHITE LIE, facilitated by Brian Babylon Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me! panelist and Vocalo host.
Showtimes
Tue, Aug 19th at 8:15pm
Wed, Aug 20th at 6:15pm

Janice Sequiera in person!
THE BICYCLE
2014, James Richards, USA, 73 min.
With Cinque Northern, Stormi Smith

Ten-year-old Bobbi (Smith) has a chip on her shoulder against her prospective stepfather Teddy (Northern). After her bicycle is grabbed by a fearsome bully, Bobbi and Teddy become reluctant partners in a search across Queens to track down the thief. A loose and lovely spin on the classic BICYCLE THIEVES, director Richards’s first feature imaginatively uses social observation and brief animation segments to enrich a journey whose distance might be short but whose unexpected outcome broadens the horizons of those involved. HDCAM video. (MR)

Producer Janice Sequiera will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.
Showtimes
Fri, Aug 22nd at 6:15pm
Sat, Aug 23rd at 8:15pm

GRAND GESTURE
2014, Dana Verde, USA, 65 min.
With Alfred E. Rutherford, Serena Reeder

This romantic comedy plays out as a rousing shaggy-dog story when recently dumped Craig camps out for a day in a Harlem diner awaiting a reunion with the ex-girlfriend who may or may not show up. A nosy waitress, a clutch of know-it-all male customers, and a psychic are among those dispensing conflicting advice, accompanied by flashbacks of the highlights and low-points in this star-crossed relationship, including a romantic hotel rendezvous-gone-wrong. There’s hope for love yet when a prediction comes true, but not precisely the way Craig had imagined. HDCAM video. (BS)

Art « Chat Daddy » Sims is hosting a relationship chat following the Saturday screening.

nUM yUMMIES will provide chocolate and Love Cork Screw will host a wine tasting before the screening on Friday.
Showtimes
Fri, Aug 22nd at 8:00pm
Mon, Aug 25th at 8:15pm

Chicago connection
Special advance screening!
Filmmakers in person!
HOGTOWN
2014, Daniel Nearing, USA, 113 min.
With Herman Wilkins, Diandra Lyle

Daniel Nearing’s CHICAGO HEIGHTS drew turnaway crowds at the 2010 BHFF and was deemed « brilliant » by Roger Ebert. Nearing’s new film HOGTOWN (the second in a trilogy begun by CHICAGO HEIGHTS) is his most ambitious and accomplished yet. The story begins in Chicago in the winter of 1919 and initially centers on a police manhunt for a missing millionaire. By adventurously marrying a postmodern sensibility with the classic American naturalism of Ernest Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson (both of whom are characters in the huge cast), HOGTOWN expands into a multilayered, multicultural tapestry of a city and a century. Though made on a miniscule budget, HOGTOWN is epic in its scope and ravishingly photographed (mostly in luminous black-and-white), designed, and scored. Special advance screening courtesy of 9:23 Films. In English, Spanish, and Mandarin with English subtitles. DCP digital. (MR)

Director Daniel Nearing, actor Herman Wilkins, and selected cast and crew members will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.
Showtimes: Sun, Aug 24th at 5:15pm

Bill Duke via Skype!
A RAGE IN HARLEM
1991, Bill Duke, USA, 109 min.
With Forest Whitaker, Robin Givens

« Delightful…a funny, sexy, and violent crime comedy. »
-Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Bill Duke has had a long and distinguished career as actor (CAR WASH, PREDATOR, MENACE II SOCIETY), director (THE KILLING FLOOR, DEEP COVER, NOT EASILY BROKEN), and humanitarian (the Duke Media Foundation). We honor his achievements with a personal appearance by Mr. Duke and a special screening of his first feature film. A highly entertaining package of action, comedy, and romance based on pulp maestro Chester Himes’s 1950s-set ghetto tall tale, A RAGE IN HARLEM features a sensational (and sadly never equaled) screen debut by Robin Givens as a voluptuous Mississippi vixen who sashays into Harlem with a trunkful of gold that acts as a magnet for a colorful assortment of crooks, con men, and killers. Also in the cast are Danny Glover, Gregory Hines, Zakes Mokae, George Wallace, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and Forest Whitaker as the super-straight square who falls hard for the curvy visitor. 35mm. (MR)

Director Bill Duke will be present via Skype for audience discussion.
Showtimes
Tue, Aug 26th at 8:15pm
Wed, Aug 27th at 6:15pm

Special advance screening!
THE FORGOTTEN KINGDOM
2013, Andrew Mudge, USA/South Africa, 97 min.
With Zenzo Ngqobe, Nozipho Nkelemba

« A sense of spirituality that permeates every frame…tremendous authenticity. »
-Richard Propes, The Independent Critic

A prodigal son reluctantly returns to his roots in this story in which a journey of self-discovery awakens a newfound respect for the past. Atang (Ngqobe), a tough Johannesburg bad boy who kicked the dust of rural Lesotho from his feet long ago, is forced to escort his father’s body back to his native village. It will take another journey led by a mysterious child through myth, witchcraft, and Lesotho’s stunning mountainous landscape, to pierce Atang’s hard heart and prepare him for the possibility of love once he understands the meaning of home. Special advance screening courtesy of Kino Lorber. In Sesotho with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)
Showtimes: Wed, Aug 27th at 8:30pm

Shorts Program:
Black Noir
2012-2014, Various directors, USA, 81 min.

Five films take a walk on the dark side: In Evita M. Castine’s dazzling ONLY LIGHT (2014, 13 min.), a suburban teenager discovers a dark secret in the house next door. James Pillion’s gritty and lyrical BUG (2013, 13 min.) follows an eight-year-old boy through the dangerous streets and golden beaches of early 1990s L.A. In Ari Dassa’s pessimistic EIGHT COUNT (2013, 15 min.), two Cameroonian immigrants pursue the American Dream. In Marques Green’s THE BLUEST NOTE (2012, 15 min.), a nightclub singer hits the skids, haunted by a femme fatale. In Daniel E. Williams’s Kafkaesque HACKED (2013, 25 min.), a black white-collar worker suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Various formats. (MR)