The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is pleased to announce increased funding from Allstate for “The Best of Black Harvest West,” which is a portion of a larger grant package that also supports the Black Harvest Film Festival’s Allstate Youth Filmmakers program. The funds that specifically support the expansion of the Black Harvest Film Festival’s pre-festival series, “The Best of Black Harvest Film Festival West,” is presented in partnership with BBF Family Services, formerly known as Better Boys Foundation, located in North Lawndale at 1512 S. Pulaski Road.
Also known as BoBH West, this program connects youth and young adults on Chicago’s West Side to the programming of the Gene Siskel Film Center, located at 164 N. State St. in the Loop, increasing access to arts and culture for all Chicagoans, and recognizing the power of film to build unity and community.
“The Gene Siskel Film Center is honored and grateful to Allstate for their ongoing and increased financial commitment to “The Best of Black Harvest Film Festival West” screenings, which gives youth and families the opportunity to interface with filmmakers of color right in their neighborhood. This is our second year of having Allstate support BoBH West as in 2018, the program—previously only held during the summer—has expanded beyond the Chicago Public Library branches to Chicago’s West Side. BoBH is invaluable to youth, families, and presenting filmmakers alike with its insightful Q&As and feedback critical to the filmmakers’ artistic growth and the attendees’ understanding of the artistic process. Most importantly, this program gives youth the opportunity to see someone with accomplishments in the film industry that looks like them and shares a similar background to inspire them to consider their own future ambitions and aspirations,” said Jean de St. Aubin, Executive Director of the Gene Siskel Film Center.
“BBF Family Services is thrilled to welcome back ‘The Best of the Black Harvest Film Festival West’ to our center in North Lawndale. Bringing these wonderful films, documentaries and shorts to the community—in the community—increases the empowerment and knowledge of those who join us. We are grateful to Allstate and the Gene Siskel Film Center, and look forward to each of these showings,” said Rufus Williams, president and CEO of BBF Family Services.
BoBH West gives audiences the opportunity to experience films made by emerging and established Black filmmakers, some of whom will appear with their work, to share personal experiences and to provide input on the creative process, enhancing arts education, informing audiences about the breadth of the movie industry, and inspiring a new generation of artists. Screenings will be presented in April and May; all films start at 6 p.m.
Friday, April 26, 6 p.m.: Shorts Program featuring “Suitable,” which recognizes the difference between love and friendship on prom night, requiring a leap of faith for two BFFs; “Riverment,” in which a family’s tradition of activism comes full circle but not without triggering fears on the part of the older generation; and “Bodega,” which concerns a convenience store owner who instigates a confrontation with a regular Black customer and gets pushback from unexpected quarters in this snappy, satiric look at racism.
Friday, May 3, 6 p.m.: “The Color of Art” with director David Weathersby in person for post-film discussion. This lively and informative documentary explores the present-day renaissance of Black art in Chicago.
Friday, May 10, 6 p.m.: Shorts Program featuring “Training Wheels,” in which a father needs to prove himself when his little girl’s bike is stolen; “Where the Water Runs,” about a water delivery truck driver who finds himself caught between the authorities and the activists as a massive drought intensifies class divisions in Los Angeles; and “Iman and the Light Warriors,” which features dazzling special effects and magical realism enhancing this tale of a 10-year-old boy in post-revolution Los Angeles. Director Sanicole Young (“Training Wheels”) appears in person for post-film discussion. Friday, May 17, 6 p.m.: “Chi-Town.” Chicago South Side native Keifer Sykes forges a record-breaking college basketball career as his friends and former teammates are felled by incarceration and gunfire in this compelling documentary portrait.
All screenings are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
The Best of Black Harvest was established in 2012 and has grown from a partnership initially with the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Tribune Foundation to include Allstate and BBF Family Services. This summer program screens select films in June and July in communities throughout Chicago in Chicago Public Library branches, namely on the South Side and West Side. Attendees participate in film discussions after each screening, and have a chance to receive complimentary tickets to the upcoming 25th Anniversary of the Black Harvest Film Festival, which will be presented this year, August 2019, at the Gene Siskel Film Center. For more information; visit https://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/BOBHW19.