Women filmmakers a highlight at Siskel Center's Black Harvest Film Festival

Women filmmakers a highlight at Siskel Center's Black Harvest Film Festival
Personal Statement

The Gene Siskel Film Center is hosting their 24th annual Black Harvest Film Festival (BHFF) which runs from August 4 through August 30. This festival shows shorts, features and documentaries from indie filmmakers about people of African descent, both nationally and internationally. Out of 60 shorts and features, 17 films were directed by women (or roughly 28 percent). The BHFF is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Here are FF2 Media’s Senior Contributor Stephanie A. Taylor’s Best of the Fest list:

Personal Statement

Juliane Dressner and Edwin Martinez direct an intense documentary about three Brooklyn high school seniors, from different schools, who are determined to go to college. Being peer college counselors as well, they have that same goal for their classmates. Karoline, Christine and Enoch have their own obstacles to conquer in order to achieve this, but things do not always go as planned. Adversities such as sexism, bullying, homophobia and complicated relationships with family are very prevalent and detrimental. The teenagers are followed around their schools and home as they are interviewed about their anxieties and hopes.The film is inspiring and it reminds us all to keep going despite bumps in the road. (3.5/5)

The G Force

Director/writer/producer Pamela Sherrod Anderson creates an insightful and informative documentary on grandparents who raise their grandchildren. In addition to grandparents’ stories, there are also interviews with legal experts and people with other resources for support. While the film covers many grandmothers in a support group setting, it focuses on two in particular - both 70 years old who share how they became parental figures.

The lighthearted moments like the banter between Ellen Robinson and her grandson, Patrick, are a highlight. They balance out the serious, poignant scenes to round out The G Force. (4/5)

Honorable Mention (not written or directed by a woman):

Betty: They Say I’m Different

Giovanna Stopponi produces a brilliant documentary about an unapologetic, unconditional and raunchy ‘70s soul/funk queen named Betty Davis. The film certainly did Davis justice. Director Philip Cox paints a candid picture of a woman who refused to be put in a box. Davis was once married to the legendary Jazz musician Miles Davis, whom she considers to be a bundle of both light and dark energy. “Everyday I was married to him was a day I earned the name Davis.” A recluse for decades, Davis agreed to be interviewed along with friends and family. (5/5)

Betty: They Say I’m Different

© Stephanie A. Taylor (8/17/18) FF2 Media

Photo credit: Gene Siskel Film Center