'Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise', 'Spirits of Rebellion ’, 'How to Tell You're a Douchbag' + More Set for 22nd Chicago Black Harvest Film Festival in August
Photo Credit: S & A

'Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise', 'Spirits of Rebellion ’, 'How to Tell You're a Douchbag' + More Set for 22nd Chicago Black Harvest Film Festival in August

"Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise"
“Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise”

Another year has gone by, and next month, as always, in Chicago, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, the annual Black Harvest Film Festival will take place, from Friday August 5 to Thursday Sept 3 (Yes it’s always a month long – longer than even Cannes, Sundance or Toronto).

And this year marks, believe it or not, the 22nd anniversary of the festival. You have to admit, that’s a remarkable achievement for any film festival anywhere. Last year the festival broke all previous attendance and box office records in its history ; and this year it’s expected to equal that.

The festival organizers have put together a really solid program this year, including some films we have profiled several times here on S&A, such as Bob Hercules’ and Rita Coburn Whack’s documentary about “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Tahir Jetter’s sexy comedy/relationship film “How to Tell You’re a Douchebag,” which also premiered at Sundance, and filmmaker’s Zeinabu irene Davis’ very personal documentary about the LA Rebellion black filmmakers of the 70’s and 80’s (Julie Dash and Charles Burnett to name just 2 of them), of which Ms. Davis was also a part. The film is titled “Spirits of Rebellion: Black Film from UCLA”.

But instead of just telling you about all the films that will be screened – over 50 of them, including features, documentaries, and shorts – as well as all the personal appearances and panels, why not take a look for yourself at the complete schedule below.

For tickets and more information go download the schedule here.

“FF” indicates a family-friendly film.

Purchase a “Black Harvest” festival pass for $55. Six movies for less than the price of five, plus a free small popcorn with each film. Turn in your pass at the end of the festival for a $5 discount on a Gene Siskel Film Center membership. A $92 value for $55!

“Black Harvest” Pre-Opening Party!

Friday, August 5

5:00 pm–10:00 pm

Highlights from the Gene Siskel Film Center’s “Black Harvest Film Festival” will delight and intrigue down the length of Couch Place, the alley just north of the Film Center. Rethink how you SEE the world around you. For more information, to RSVP, and to check out the suggested dress code: http://loopchicago.com/activate. RSVP includes one complimentary drink ticket per registered attendee (21+). Good for beer or wine. ACTIVATE is an economic development and place-making initiative of Chicago Loop Alliance. Free admission.


1984, Albert Magnoli, USA, 111 min.

With Prince, Apollonia Kotero

Friday, August 5, 9:30 pm

Finish off the party with a screening of Prince’s immortal classic!

Admission is only $5.00!

Revolving around a young musician’s struggle to break away from an abusive father, the film showcases some of Prince’s most exuberant songs (including “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and “Purple Rain”) and fierce live-concert footage. Apollonia Kotero is ravishing as the romantic interest, and Morris Day provides lively comic rivalry. Prince won an Oscar for the music score. DCP digital. (Jim Dempsey)


Join Master of Ceremonies LeeAnn Trotter of NBC 5 Chicago for the opening night celebration, a homecoming event honoring Black Harvest filmmakers past and present. Immediately following the show “A Black Harvest Feast,” the audience is invited to join our celebrity guests for a reception at Joffrey Tower (8 E. Randolph St.), home of The Joffrey Ballet Chicago.

Saturday, August 6, 7:30 pm

Opening night films!

Filmmakers in person!

A Black Harvest Feast

2014-16, Various directors, USA/France, 75 min.

Saturday, August 6, 7:30 pm

Enjoy a sneak preview of the 2016 “harvest” through six short films: Maxime Gilbert’s DIME, a short lesson on speaking your mind; Jason Honeycutt’s moving drama of a fateful encounter on the streets of Chicago, INTERSECTION; Nicholas Pilarski’s poignant coming-of-age animation, I, DESTINI; William Adams’s date-night comedy, A 3RD FIRST; Maïmouna Doucouré’s haunting child’s-eye view of marital discord, MAMAN(S); and Derek Dow’s peppy paean to Hair Pride, THE BIG CHOP. (BS, MR)

Filmmakers William Adams, Derek Dow, Maxime Gilbert, Nick Pilarski, and Destini Riley and will be present.

Special admission prices for this program (includes reception): General Admission $25; Students $20; Members $15. 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.

Chicago connection!

Tod Lending in person!


2015, Tod Lending, USA, 83 min.

Sunday, August 7, 3:00 pm

Monday, August 8, 6:00 pm

Inspired by Wes Moore’s bestseller “The Other Wes Moore,” Oscar-nominated director Lending (LEGACY) follows two young black men from Chicago’s South Side on a difficult and heroic journey. Krishaun and Robert come from broken families in high-crime neighborhoods where many kids don’t expect to live past 18, much less go to college, but it can take only one generation to break the cycle and change a family’s future. Robert’s mother was murdered by his father, and Krishaun, like his father, joined a gang. Now, bolstered by their education at Chicago’s Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, they aim for college–Krishaun studying criminal justice at Nashville’s historically black Fisk University, Robert taking pre-med at predominantly white Lake Forest College. Filmed over five and a half years, the film 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. (MR) FF

Director Tod Lending and cast member Krishaun Branch will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Chicago connection!

Filmmakers in person!

Shorts Program:

Made in Chicago I

2015-16, Various directors, USA, 86 min.

Sunday, August 7, 5:15 pm

Thursday, August 11, 8:00 pm

Five films featuring Chicago talent: ROAD TRIP (Samuel Wofford, 10 min.), THE BIG CHOP (Derek Dow, 16 min.), PANGAEA (Olivia Peace, 7 min.), NIA AND CHERYL (Weichao Xu, 14 min.), and CROSSROADS (David J. Miller, 39 min.).

Director Samuel Wofford and actors Aubrey Marquez and Harold Dennis of ROAD TRIP; cinematographer Ashley Mills of PANGAEA; cast members Nia M. Parker and Cheryl Taylor of NIA AND CHERYL; director David J. Miller, producer Michelle De Long, writer Jeffrey M. Jones, and actors Sheila Fortson (Sunday only), Tamarus Harvell (Thursday only), Raphael Hayden, Chris Love, and Marcus Rashad of CROSSROADS will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Filmmakers in person!


2015, Crosby Tatum, USA, 71 min.

With Keith Mascoll, Jamie Perez, Simba Dibinga

Monday, August 8, 8:15 pm

Wednesday, August 10, 8:15 pm

The one-year marriage of Ferguson, a shy, bespectacled author, and his spendaholic Gucci-gal wife Tiffany seems headed for the rocks. Arriving only steps behind the foreclosure notice on their posh suburban split-level is Ferguson’s high-rolling pal Reggie, with significant other Jo-Jo, who just happens to be Ferguson’s ex-girlfriend. Reggie makes a financial proposition, and the stage is set for games, not strictly limited to Truth or Dare and Spin the Bottle, in this comedy that director Tatum based in part on memories of a family predicament. (BS)

Director Crosby Tatum and members of the cast and crew will tentatively be present for audience discussion.

Kate Jablonski in person!

Shorts Program:

International Visions

2014-16, Various directors, Various nations, 89 min.

Tuesday, August 9, 8:15 pm

Five shorts from foreign shores highlight new perspectives on black life and culture: DEATH TO LIFE (Roger Bell, UK, 5 min.), ALMA (Christa Eka Assam, Cameroon, 22 min.), SHADOW MAN (Afia Nkrumah, UK, 16 min.), COLOR (PRETO) (Elton de Almeida, Brazil, 22 min.), and MAMAN(S) (Maïmouna Doucouré, France, 24 min.).

Dancer/choreographer Kate Jablonski (DEATH TO LIFE) will be present for audience discussion.

Ty Flowers in person!


2015, Ty Flowers, USA, 54 min.

Wednesday, August 10, 6:00 pm

Multiple miscarriages of justice are the focus of this gripping true-crime documentary. In 1967, an African American migrant worker named James Richardson was sentenced to death for poisoning his seven children in Arcadia, Florida. 21 years later, a deathbed confession by an overlooked suspect led to Richardson’s release, but, in 2013, filmmaker Flowers found him living in poverty, thanks to inadequate compensation and exoneration laws. The son of an investigative journalist who had covered the case, Flowers dug deep to piece together a story that is, as he says, “about race, about Florida, about the evolution of small-town justice, about systemic corruption on all levels of government.” (MR)

Director Ty Flowers will be present for audience discussion.

Chicago connection!

Filmmakers in person!

Shorts Program:

Made in Chicago II

2014-16, Various directors, USA, 83 min.

Friday, August 12, 6:00 pm

Tuesday, August 16, 8:15 pm

Five more films featuring Chicago talent: HI MOM (Jonathan Rhodes, 11 min.), INTERSECTION (Jason Honeycutt, 8 min.), SIDE EFFECTS (Sanicole, 19 min.), JERMAINE (Angela Y. Dugan, 21 min.), and SHINEMEN (Eleva Singleton, 24 min.).

Directors Jonathan Rhodes of HI MOM; director Angela Y. Dugan of JERMAINE; and director Eleva Singleton and cast members of SHINEMEN will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Bobby J. Brown and Funkadelic members in person!



2016, Bobby J. Brown, USA, 58 min.

Friday, August 12, 8:30 pm

Saturday, August 13, 8:15 pm

Filmmaker Brown takes us way behind the scenes historically in this revealing profile of the revolutionary dance-party funk band Parliament Funkadelic, including a hard look at its controversial and autocratic leader George Clinton. From doo-wop roots to the Mothership Connection tour and the eventual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, the music and the over-the-top costumes put the fun in funk. The stories of high life and wild ways are de rigueur for the rock scene, but the meat of this tale is an unraveling saga of Clinton’s ruthless manipulation and exploitation of band members, leaving some of his original collaborators bewildered and betrayed. This program is dedicated to the memory of keyboardist Bernie Worrell (1944-2016). (BS)

Director Bobby J. Brown, plus Billy “Bass” Nelson, Jerome “Bigfoot” Brailey, and “Shady” Grady Thomas, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame former members of Parliament Funkadelic, will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Festival panel discussion

Action! The Real Deal About Filmmaking

Saturday, August 13, 5:15 pm

Our “Black Harvest” panel discussion annually debates issues relating to black filmmaking. Festival consultant Sergio Mims heads up a panel of filmmakers to include: directors Sandrel “Sanicole” Young (SIDE EFFECTS); Eleva Singleton (SHINEMEN); Bobby J. Brown (TEAR THE ROOF OFF); and Mallory Sohmer and Kate Benzschawel (WALK ALL NIGHT). The audience is invited to participate in this provocative forum.

Free admission. Tickets available at the box office only. Seats available on a first come, first served basis.


2015, Kevin Willmott, USA, 57 min.

Sunday, August 14, 3:00 pm

BHFF veteran (DESTINATION PLANET NEGRO, JAYHAWKERS) and CHI-RAQ screenwriter Willmott turns a documentary eye on his native Kansas City to explore a crisis situation that is becoming all too common in urban schools. Gordon Parks Elementary School, which serves some of the city’s most disadvantaged children, finds itself facing closure because of low test scores. Willmott’s intimate portrayal of the school’s dynamic principal, dedicated teachers, and challenge-overcoming students (as one educator notes, “Can you imagine your kid doing his homework if he lived in a car?”) raises wide-ranging questions about over-reliance on standardized testing and the politicization of education. (MR) FF

Chicago connection!

Filmmakers in person!



2016, Mallory Sohmer and Kate Benzschawel, USA, 86 min.

Sunday, August 14, 5:00 pm

Monday, August 15, 8:00 pm

A musical pilgrimage to Senegal illuminates links to their Africa heritage for four Chicago youths, but it also uncovers complex and troubling issues that were not anticipated when filming of this documentary began. Social worker Elilta Tewelde, herself an Eritrean refugee, becomes fascinated by the bucket drummers whom she sees performing on the streets of Chicago’s South Side. She crowd-funds a project to take four teenage drummers on a trip to Senegal to study under master percussionist/griot Medoune Gueye (aka Papa Dame). 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. (MR)

Co-directors Mallory Sohmer and Kate Benzschawel and executive producer/cast member Elilta Tewelde will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Filmmakers in person!


2016, Saquan Jones and Erin Ryan, USA, 73 min.

With Ashley Bloom, Shadner Ifrene

Tuesday, August 16, 6:15 pm

Wednesday, August 17, 8:15 pm

An interracial marriage undergoes a trial by fire when a dispute over the Thanksgiving turkey precipitates an emotional look at the very roots of the relationship. In order to achieve cultural veracity, the biracial production team divided responsibilities, with Jones directing Charles (Ifrene), the African American husband, and Ryan directing Amanda (Bloom), his Caucasian wife. Flashbacks point up the sexual chemistry that underlies the couple’s love, but glaring cultural differences come into play, sometimes humorously, when friends and family enter the equation, and a toddler son begs the question of identity anew. (BS)

Co-directors Saquan Jones and Erin Ryan, actors Charles Joyner, Ashley Bloom, and Rocky Collins, and camera operator Ryan Schwerzler will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Richard Steele in person!



2015, N.C. Heikin, USA, 84 min.

Wednesday, August 17, 6:00 pm

“It’s a fond and forgiving tribute to the man, filled with music that moves beyond happy and sad, and toward something like brilliance.”–Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times

For a good portion of the 1960s and 1970s, the man often described as “the greatest living alto sax player” could be heard only if you journeyed to San Quentin to attend one of the legendary concerts by the prison’s all-star jazz band. Prodigiously talented Frank Morgan (who died in 2007) was inspired by the great Charlie Parker, but that inspiration included emulating Parker’s heroin habit, which led to a criminal career ranging from burglary to bank robbery. This candid, moving documentary covers the highs and lows of Morgan’s life (including a remarkable late-life comeback), framed by a tribute concert performed at San Quentin by such admirers as Delfeayo Marsalis, Ron Carter, and Morgan protégé Grace Kelly, whose soaring, heartbreaking rendition of “Over the Rainbow” captures the mixture of triumph and regret that marked a difficult life. (MR)

Chicago radio host and music critic Richard Steele will be presented with the Gene Siskel Legacy Award at this screening.

Filmmakers in person!

Shorts Program:

We Are Family

2015-16, Various directors, USA/UK, 92 min.

Thursday, August 18, 8:15 pm

The power of family to divide or to make whole is at the center of these shorts: SECOND WORDS (Jake Hull, 11 min.); I, DESTINI (Nicholas Pilarski, 14 min.); SHADE OF MUSIC (D. Mitry, 27 min.); THE GOOD SON (Tomisin Adepeju, UK, 14 min., in Yoruba and English with English subtitles); and WATCH THIS (Richard Turke, 2015, 26 min.). (BS)

Directors D. Mitry of SHADE OF MUSIC, Richard Turke of WATCH THIS, and (tentatively) Jake Hull of SECOND WORDS will be present for audience discussion.

Chicago connection!

Filmmakers in person!

Love African American Style

2014-16, Various directors, USA/Canada, 92 min.

Friday, August 19, 6:00 pm

Saturday, August 20, 8:30 pm

Love, our universal obsession, is seen for better and for worse in these shorts: A 3RD FIRST (William Adams, 2016, 10 min.); YOUR LOVE (Laila Petrone, 8 min.); DIME (DIX SOUS) (Maxime Gilbert, Canada, 3 min.); BREAK (Nicholas Payne Santos, 8 min.); BREAKFAST (Alaina L. Lewis, 13 min.); THE ADULTERER (Gian Smith, 15 min.); THE LAST NEW YEAR (Natasha Parker, 15 min.); and BLACK & WHITE (Dana Verde, 20 min.). (BS)

Director William Adams (Friday only), associate producer Latonya Tureau, and actors Conchedia De Pratto and Lawrence E. Johnson Jr. of A 3RD FIRST; director Alaina L. Lewis and actors Kayann Comeaux and Lamar Barnes of BREAKFAST; Director Gian Smith and producer/actress Nicole Collins of THE ADULTERER; producer/actor N.K. Gutiérrez of THE LAST NEW YEAR; and director Dana Verde of BLACK & WHITE will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Chicago connection!

Filmmakers in person!


2015, Lawrence Lee Wallace and The SpinArtist, USA, 70 min.

With Eric Lane, José Santiago, Simeon Henderson

Friday, August 19, 8:30 pm

Wednesday, August 24, 8:30 pm

Chicago becomes a battleground for two gangs looking to dominate the streets in this series pilot that aims to portray a more complex human reality than the controversial CHI-RAQ. “We are living what Spike Lee is trying to sell with his story,” says writer/producer William Pierce. Just home from prison, Marshawn Adams (Lane), the youngest son of a pastor and brother to a police officer (Henderson), signals a new era for the Black Hustlers, a gang in direct conflict with drug-dealing matriarch Kika, whose son Diablo (Santiago) heads the Spanish Angels. The film was shot entirely on Chicago’s South Side with a team combining local acting talent, recent film school grads, and gang members. DCP digital. (BS)

Executive producer Rodger Jackson, director Lawrence Lee Wallace, actors José Santiago, Simeon Henderson, and additional cast and crew will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Chicago connection!

Filmmakers in person!


2016, Seckeita Lewis, USA, 98 min.

With Brandon Lewis, Antony Fort, Irma P. Hall, George Wallace

Saturday, August 20, 6:00 pm

Sunday, August 21, 5:00 pm

Set in the Jim Crow South, in a small Mississippi town, and bursting with goofy musical numbers and slapstick, JERICO, the first feature by former Chicagoan Lewis, takes the daring step of creating high comedy from the darker and more violent aspects of segregation. A Klan action over an African American man’s bid for promotion at work leaves a family legacy that the next generation is forced to reckon with on the very day the Civil Rights Act passes. Crazy chases, ruses, redneck villains, romantic missteps, and a black man in white face all keep this plot humming, as two guys just trying to get to work become unintentional heroes on that fateful 1964 morning. (BS)

Director Seckeita Lewis, screenwriter/actor Brandon Lewis, and actor Irma P. Hall will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Chicago connection!

James Greeson in person!



2015, James Greeson, USA, 57 min.

Sunday, August 21, 3:00 pm

This absorbing documentary examines the remarkable life and work of Florence Price, who incorporated spirituals, Juba dances, and other vernacular sources into the classical tradition in the course of a prolific composing career, becoming the first African American woman whose work was performed by a major orchestra. Price established herself as a musical prodigy in Arkansas, until lynchings motivated a relocation to Chicago in 1927. There she became a key figure in the Chicago Black Renaissance, collaborating with the likes of Langston Hughes, Katherine Dunham, and, especially, Marian Anderson, who performed Price’s “My Soul’s Been Anchored in de Lord” at the climax of her historic 1939 Lincoln Memorial concert. (MR) FF

Director James Greeson will be present for audience discussion.


2016, Marc Levin, USA, 74 min.

Tuesday, August 23, 6:00 pm

“Puts a human face on the issue of income equality…compelling viewing.”–Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“There are no villains here, and everyone gets a say.”–Daniel M. Gold, The New York Times

The high price of gentrification is examined in this gripping profile of one intersection in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. On one side of the street, a stone’s throw from the popular High Line, lies an aging public housing project packed with black and Latino families of the working poor. On the other side stands a brand new elite pre-K-12 private school flanked by condos with “bargain” price tags circa ten million. Filmmaker Levin (HARD TIMES: LOST ON LONG ISLAND) focuses on the kids on both sides of the divide, but also listens to parents, teachers, developers, newcomers, and longtime residents of the area, for a complex portrait of classism and urban evolution. Special advance screening courtesy of HBO Documentary Films. (BS)

This screening is a Movie Club event.

Chicago connection!

Filmmakers in person!


2016, China L. Colston, USA, 89 min.

With China L. Colston, David Roberts

Tuesday, August 23, 8:15 pm

Wednesday, August 24, 6:15 pm

The ticking of her biological clock brings Emon (former Chicagoan Colston), a hard-driving executive in line for a big promotion, to a decision not shared by her amiable husband Idreese (Roberts) in this intimate drama. A guilty secret buried in her past and an unspoken trauma lurking in his bring on a crisis, as the future of their seemingly perfect marriage hangs in the balance. Facing unfinished business with former partners and making peace with actions that cannot be undone become the keys to healing. (BS)

Director China L. Colston, editor/composer Kafele Bandele, and supporting actors Michael Alexis Palmer, Harold Dennis, and Lawrence Lee Wallace will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Filmmakers in person!

Women of Color

2014-16, Various directors, USA, 84 min.

Thursday, August 25, 8:15 pm

Courage and resilience characterizes the African American woman in the face of life’s rough spots in these shorts: DECISIONS (2016, Bryan Willis, 5 min.); ON TIME (Xavier Burgin, 9 min.); FOG (Chelsea Woods, 13 min.); CORA (Kevin Maxwell, 2015, 22 min.); JAMAICA T. JONES (Nzinga Kadalie Kemp, 19 min.); and ME TOO, YOU (Travis Williams, 15 min.). (BS)

Director Bryan Willis of DECISIONS and writer-producer-actor Maria Miller of ME TOO, YOU will be present for audience discussion.


2016, Tahir Jetter, USA, 80 min.

With Charles Brice, DeWanda Wise

Friday, August 26, 6:15 pm

Monday, August 29, 8:00 pm

“Seems to speak to a continually-budding generation of Twitter-philes that are equal parts socially aware and self-obsessed.”–Dan Mecca, The Film Stage

“A welcome change of pace compared to the conventional tripe that comes off Hollywood’s assembly line.”–Nick Spake, Flickreel

Ray (Brice), 100% player and lightly employed writer of the blog “Occasionally Dating Black Women,” is begging for comeuppance in this snappy romantic comedy with a knack for just desserts. Ray meets his match in Rochelle (Wise), a fellow writer with a high-powered career and a healthy disdain for his bed-hopping ways. Heartlessness and thoughtlessness make for a lethal cocktail when this cocky would-be suitor, one foot in mouth, lets his finger do the talking by hitting “send” too soon, for a viral reaction he’ll live to regret. Note: Includes nudity and sexual activity. (BS)

Chicago connection!

Filmmakers in person!


2015, Lawrence Lee Wallace, USA, 100 min.

With Kimberly Washington, Brian C. Green

Friday, August 26, 8:15 pm

Tuesday, August 30, 8:00 pm

Based on Chicago author April Tylon-Warren’s novel, this complex and passionate coming-of-age story is set entirely on Chicago’s South Side in the Seventies, where the changing fortunes of families and friendships impact the tumultuous life of a young woman. Attractions, jealousies, breakups, and bonding mark the relationships of a close-knit group of neighborhood teens, until Sunshine (Washington) settles down with Josh (Green), but marriage and motherhood bring challenges that include infidelity, mental illness, addiction, and the escalating violence of the streets. (BS)

Writer/executive producer April Tylon-Warren, director Lawrence Lee Wallace, and actors Brian C. Green and Kimberly Washington will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

Zeinabu irene Davis in person!



2016, Zeinabu irene Davis, USA, 100 min.

Saturday, August 27, 3:00 pm

“Davis’ film is not only deeply informative, but hugely inspiring… cultural amnesia and dedicated erasure can make it seem like resistance has been scant and creativity in the face of staggering obstacles a non-starter. SPIRITS proves just how false those notions are.”–Ernest Hardy, Crave

“LA Rebellion” is the name given to the important movement that arose in the Ethno-communications Program at UCLA in the late 1960s and that sought to forge an alternative to Hollywood for filmmakers of color. Director Davis, herself a graduate of the program, provides a lively inside look at the diverse group of filmmakers, teachers, and social-historical factors behind the movement, with illuminating excerpts and interviews from such groundbreaking directors as Charles Burnett, Larry Clark, Julie Dash, Jamaa Fanaka, Haile Gerima, Barbara McCullough, and Bill Woodberry. (MR) FF

Director Zeinabu irene Davis will be present for audience discussion.

LA Rebellion classics!

Zeinabu irene Davis in person!


1999, Zeinabu Irene Davis, USA, 92 min.

With John Jelks, Michelle A. Banks

Saturday, August 27, 5:30 pm

“A small, quiet, enchanting film about characters who endure and prevail and trust themselves… It makes you feel good.”–Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“Beautiful and poignant… deserves the chance to reach the widest audience possible.”–Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

Two unique African American love stories, each involving a deaf woman and a hearing man, play out in this moving drama. Inspired by a poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar, the narrative shares their struggle to overcome racism, disability and discrimination. This important film on African American deaf culture innovatively incorporates silent film techniques such as title cards and vintage photos to make the piece accessible to hearing and deaf viewers alike, and to share the vast possibilities of language and communication. (Description courtesy of Women Make Movies)

Director Zeinabu irene Davis will be present for audience discussion.

Chicago connection!

Filmmakers in person!


2016, Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack, USA, 114 min.

Saturday, August 27, 8:00 pm

The remarkable, daring, and iconic life of poet, writer, and activist Maya Angelou unfolds in this in-depth portrait, which includes a substantial element of storytelling by the artist herself. Angelou brings the resonant cadences of poetry to narrating an entrancing chronicle of a youth shaped by family upheaval, the racism of a small Arkansas town, and early motherhood, as eventually detailed in her first book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Rare footage traces her varied pre-writing career as a nightclub dancer, singer, and star known as “Miss Calypso,” her courage as a political activist, and her transformative friendships with figures including James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Interviews include Oprah Winfrey, Common, Alfre Woodard, Cicely Tyson, Quincy Jones, and Angelou’s son Guy Johnson. (BS) FF

Co-directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack will be present for audience discussion.

Chicago connection!

David J. Steiner in person!


2016, David J. Steiner, USA, 83 min.

Sunday, August 28, 3:00 pm

Wednesday, August 31, 6:00 pm

The Betty Shabazz-Barbara A. Sizemore Academy has been called “an urban village, an oasis in the heart of Englewood.” In 2015, it 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, while documenting its enlistment of high-profile supporters such as Richard Steele and Cornell West, and its deployment of a delegation in a Michael Moore-style crashing of the CPS headquarters. (MR) FF

Director David J. Steiner will be present for audience discussion at both screenings.

LA Rebellion classics!

Newly restored!


1990, Charles Burnett, USA, 102 min.

With Danny Glover, Paul Butler

Sunday, August 28, 5:30 pm

Monday, August 29, 6:00 pm

“A very entertaining, complex film.”–Vincent Canby, The New York Times

“Burnett’s acute and sensitive direction is free of hackneyed movie conventions; even something as simple as a hello is said differently from the way you’ve heard it in any other movie.”–Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Featured in SPRITS OF REBELLION (Aug. 27), Charles Burnett was one of the major figures associated with the UCLA-based “LA Rebellion” group. This dark, semi-mystical comedy was too offbeat and unpredictable to succeed at the box office, but its reputation has soared over the years. Danny Glover delivers a sensational performance as Harry Mention, a folkloric Trickster who insinuates himself into a middle-class South Central household and proceeds to spread discord, doubt, and disease. Is he human or demon? And how can his hosts get rid of him? New 4K DCP digital restoration courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment. (MR)

Closing night film!

Filmmakers in person!



2014, Frank Dawson and Abby Ginzberg, USA, 66 min.

Thursday, September 1, 6:30 pm

“The film’s characters were caught at the crossroads of the civil rights, black power, and anti-Vietnam war movements at a pivotal time in America’s history.”–Sojourner Truth Radio

The little-known story of the late-Sixties grassroots struggle that led to the creation of departments of black and ethnic studies at American colleges and universities is told in this documentary focusing on the seminal student revolts at San Francisco State and Cornell. Black students recruited by institutions of higher learning in unprecedented numbers soon found their history and culture reflected nowhere on all-white campuses. Protests and sit-ins evolved into violent armed revolution that startled the nation with images of black students with guns. Filmmakers Dawson and Ginzberg combine the first-person recollections of those who were there with powerful archival footage and photographs for a compelling evocation of history. Winner of Jury and Audience awards at the 2016 Pan-African Film Festival. (BS)

Co-directors Frank Dawson and Abby Ginzberg will be present for audience discussion. Ticket-holders are invited to a reception sponsored by the Reva and David Logan Foundation following the show.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

© 2023 Shadow & Act. All rights reserved.