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27th Annual Black Harvest Film Fest returns with Parks’ and Van Peebles’ tributes

Black Film Festival

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center is pleased to announce the full festival schedule for its 27th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival—the Midwest’s largest- and longest-running Black film festival—which will take place both virtually and in person at the Gene Siskel Film Center from Friday, November 5, through Thursday, December 2. The festival’s month-long showcase of Black stories will feature 28 feature films; 36 short films; several free panel discussions; and tributes to both Gordon Parks (including screenings of “The Learning Tree” and “Shaft”) and Melvin Van Peebles. The festival will also feature over 25 separate in-person and virtual filmmakers and cast appearances.

“After months of not gathering, and as the fight for racial equality and justice continues to be waged, Black Harvest endeavors to present portraits of joy, power, resilience and resistance, and to discover and spotlight emerging, talented storytellers. We’re excited to share these films with audiences,” said Director of Programming Rebecca Fons.

“After a long intermission, we are beyond thrilled to be able to gather again in person to celebrate Black filmmakers, stories, and the loyal Black Harvest audience. Film is a powerful catalyst for dialogue, empathy, growth and joy. The festival has always felt like a reunion—and after last year’s virtual festival, this return to our theaters will be more joyful than ever,” said Jean de St. Aubin, Executive Director of the Gene Siskel Film Center.

RICHARD ROUNDTREE KICKS butts and takes names later in ‘Shaft,’ one of the trailblazing films of Gordon Parks–to be screened at this year’s Black Harvest Film Festival.

On Opening Night (November 6), NBC/5 Entertainment Reporter Lee-Ann Trotter will serve as MC, presiding over our Chicago premiere screening of the acclaimed documentary, “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” with co-director Dave Wooley in attendance. This engaging documentary chronicles Warwick’s upbringing, life, and six-decade-plus career.

A special presentation of Reinaldo Marcus Green’s highly anticipated “King Richard,” starring Will Smith as an undeterred father determined to write his daughters, Venus and Serena Williams, into history.

WESLEY SNIPES AND Halle Berry star in Spike Lee’s 1991 film, ‘Jungle Fever.’ This was Berry’s first movie role. The film also starred Spike Lee, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Samuel L. Jackson, Lonette McKee and John Turturro.

Several homegrown stories, including a collection of locally made shorts and “It’s Different In Chicago,” David Weathersby’s chronicle of house and hip-hop music are also on tap, as well as two screenings of the groundbreaking Van Peebles’ “Sweet Sweetback’s Baad-asssss Song.” And the festival reaches back into good Black filmmaking with a December 2nd, 30th anniversary Closing Night screening of Spike Lee’s provocative “Jungle Fever” on 35mm.

Among other full-length films are “Maya and her Lover,” “Thicker Than Blood,” “Memoirs of a Black Girl” and “100 Years From Mississippi.” For the fourth year, The Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Black Harvest Film Festival Prize will be awarded to a short filmmaker, and—for the first time—a feature documentary or narrative filmmaker, for quality in storytelling, creativity, and filmmaking. This year’s Legacy Award will be presented to photographer Dawoud Bey, Professor of Art and a former Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago.

KELLEY KALI IS a recently widowed, single mom in ‘I’m Fine (Thanks For Asking)’. She spends a hectic day trying to earn enough money to rent an apartment.

New for 2021: Virtual Festival

• In addition to select in-person screenings, all shorts programs will be available for streaming for the entire duration of the festival.

• Select features will be available virtually beginning the day after they conclude their theatrical screenings.

• Virtual films will be available to stream throughout the entire U.S. (unless noted).

COVID-19 Protocols: The Film Center requires a valid photo ID and proof of full vaccination or a negative result on a COVID PCR test for all screenings and events at the Film Center.

Regular in-person tickets and virtual film presentations are $12, with Film Center members paying only $6 per ticket. Students with valid school ID pay $7, and SAIC students, staff, or faculty pay $5 for regular film presentations.

Black Harvest Film Festival passes cost $60 and can be redeemed for six (6) regular in-person or virtual film presentations (excluding Opening and Closing Nights).

Film Center members will pay only $30 for the six-film Black Harvest festival pass. In-person “Conversations” are free and first-come, first-served, with tickets available at the box office.

Opening Night tickets are $50 (general audience), with Film Center member and student tickets on sale for $30. Tickets include the screening, Q&A, and special reception.

Black Harvest Film Festival individual tickets and festival passes are available for purchase now at

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