By Senior Contributor Stephanie A. Taylor

The 22nd Annual Black Harvest Film Festival (BHFF), which takes place at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, Illinois, celebrates the history and heritage of black people, worldwide, through indie films and shorts.  

While the focus is Black culture, there are several female directors and screenwriters at the festival this year, including Jerico 2016, Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey 2016, Compensation 1999 and Agents of Change.


Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey 2016 is a featured film at the 22nd Annual Black Harvest Film Festival (BHFF). The 86-minute documentary, directed by Mallory Sohmer and Kate Benzschawel, focuses on four African American teens who live in Chicago in 2012. A social worker named Elilta Tewelde is intrigued by the boys’ talents as bucket drummers.


“It was a really cold evening and I saw a young man on the bucket drum. He was just so engaged in what he was doing, he didn’t recognize how cold it was outside. I kept thinking there was something I had to do with bucket drumming but I didn’t know exactly what it was,” said Tewelde. She raises money to travel to Senegal for the boys to hone their craft with Medoune Gueye, a very accomplished percussionist.

Dontay (15), D’Quan (17), Demetrius and Damonte (both 19) are from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago. “Bucket drumming is like this unrecognized culture among these youth. So why not take it further and let it enhance their skills?” said Tewelde. She then contacts an organization called Rhythm and Dance, which teaches African drumming and dance in Washington, D.C.


Although this film includes culture clashes, drama and disappointment, it was very thought-provoking and uplifting. It had me thinking – if everyone had people who believe in them and put action behind it, we could go much further as a society.

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© 08/10/16

Photo: Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey

Photo Credit: Gene Siskel Film Center


About StephanieFB_IMG_1469350787942

Stephanie A. Taylor is a Chicago blogger and consultant. She has written for several local publications and, has also written on topics such as women’s issues, health and domestic violence. Her blog is called satwrites and can be found on here site, Follow Stephanie on Twitter @satwrites
Tags: BHFF, Black Harvest Film Festival, FF2 Media, Kate Benzschawel, Mallory Sohmer, Stephanie Taylor, Walk All Night

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Brigid Presecky began her career in journalism at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. In 2008, she joined FF2 Media as a part-time film critic and multimedia editor. Receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Bradley University, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked in development, production and publicity for Berlanti Productions, Entertainment Tonight and Warner Bros. Studios, respectively. Returning to her journalistic roots in Chicago, she is now a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and certified Rotten Tomatoes Film Critic.
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