By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
The Gene Siskel Film Center (GSFC) of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), in partnership with the Chicago Public Library (CPL), presents the “Best of Black Harvest” (BOBH) in four neighborhood library branches in Woodlawn, North Lawndale, West Garfield Park and Ashburn. The libraries are as follows: Wrightwood Ashburn Branch, 8530 S. Kedzie Ave.; Legler Branch, 115 S. Pulaski Ave.; Douglass Branch, 3353 W. 13th St. and Coleman Branch, 731 E. 63rd St.
GSFC invites community members to attend screenings of films from previous “Black Harvest Film Festivals,” followed by discussions with filmmakers, cast members and representatives from the following features and shorts: All The Difference; Saving Barbara Sizemore; Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey; I, Destini; Intersection; Road Trip; Shinemen and The Big Chop. followimg are the synopses for a few of them.
Saving Barbara Sizemore; 2016, David J. Steiner, USA, 83 min.
Wednesday, July 5, at 5:30 p.m., Legler and Saturday, July 8, at 2 p.m., Wrightwood Ashburn Branch.
In 2015, the Betty Shabazz-Barbara A. Sizemore Academy in Englewood was one of four charter schools put on the chopping block by Chicago Public Schools. The school fought back, and teacher/filmmaker Steiner captured the struggle in this engaging, persuasive film, which conveys the school’s unique family atmosphere and emphasis on African culture.
Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey; 2016, Mallory Sohmer & Kate Benzschawel, USA, 86 min.
Thursday, July 13, at 5:30 p.m., Douglass Branch and Tuesday, July 25, at 2 p.m., Coleman Branch.
A musical pilgrimage to Senegal uncovers complex and troubling issues that were not anticipated when filming of this documentary began. Social worker Elilta Tewelde becomes fascinated by the bucket drummers she sees on the streets of Chicago’s South Side. She crowd funds a project to take four teenage drummers to Senegal to study under master percussionist, Medoune Gueye. But the cultural gulf between South Side and West Africa is not so easily crossed and conflicts arise among Tewelde, the four boys and their Senegalese hosts.
All The Difference; 2015, Tod Lending, USA, 83 min.
Thursday, July 6, at 5:30 p.m., Douglass Branch; Wednesday, July 12, at 5:30 p.m., Coleman Branch and Saturday, July 22, at 5:30 p.m., Wrightwood Ashburn Branch.
Oscar-nominated director, Lending (LEGACY) follows two young Black men from Chicago’s South Side as they aim for college. Filmed over 5-1⁄2 years, this insightful documentary traces their personal, academic and financial struggles, as it weighs the factors that make all the difference in their effort to be among the 16% of African-American men who graduate from college.
A widely-known cultural event, the “Black Harvest Film Festival” is dedicated solely to screening premieres from the African Diaspora. In its sixth year, GSFC and CPL will continue to extend this cultural experience to diverse neighborhoods in Chicago through the BOBH.
The BOBH screenings will continue through Saturday, July 29. All screenings are free and open to the public on a first come, first served basis until capacity is reached. Refreshments will be provided and attendees will have the chance to receive complimentary tickets to this year’s “Black Harvest Film Festival” at the GSFC, which will take place August 5-31. The full “Best of Black Harvest’ screening schedule can be found at www.siskelfilmcenter.org/bestofblackharvest2017.
About the Black Harvest Film Festival:
The Black Harvest Film Festival is the Midwest’s largest- and longest-running Black film festival and the Gene Siskel Film Center’s most vibrant annual showcase featuring provocative films that tell stories, spark lively discussions, and address issues relating to the experiences from the African Diaspora. Black Harvest features Chicago premieres, filmmaker appearances, panel discussions, and special events. Presented are over 50 features, documentaries, and shorts, including a number connected to Chicago, affirming the city’s role as a vital center for independent filmmaking. Black Harvest supports the Film Center’s ongoing mission to present inclusive and insightful programming. This year’s festival runs August 5-31 and festival schedule and tickets will be available starting July 20 at http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/blackharvest.
About the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago:
Since 1972, the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has presented cutting edge cinema to an annual audience of 80,000. The Film Center’s programming includes annual film festivals that celebrate diverse voices and international cultures, premieres of trailblazing work by today’s independent filmmakers, restorations and revivals of essential films from cinema history, and insightful provocative discussions with filmmakers and media artists. Altogether, the Film Center hosts over 1,500 screenings and 100 filmmaker appearances every year. The Film Center was renamed the Gene Siskel Film Center in 2000 after the late, nationally celebrated film critic, Gene Siskel. Visit www.siskel- filmcenter.org to learn more and find out what’s playing today.
About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago:
For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries and state-of-the-art facilities.
SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons and LeRoy Neiman. www.saic.edu.