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 1981 classic A RAGE IN HARLEM to 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 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 (8 E. Randolph St.), home of The Joffrey Ballet Chicago, with music by Musicians of the Chicago Sinfonietta.
Friday, August 1, 6:15 pm
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