Siskel Center presents sixth annual Best of Black Harvest

Gene Siskel Film Center continues to partner with the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Tribune Foundation to present the sixth annual Best of Black Harvest. Executive Director Jean de St Aubin says, “I don’t think we’ve even considered not doing the Best of Black Harvest and being out in the community. I think it’s times like this when you need as many positive activities and distractions and opportunities to bring people together for something positive. It’s just more crucial at this time so we would never consider not doing the program.”

Keisha Chavers, Program Coordinator of the BOBH, says, “The easiest answer is that people want to be entertained.  With all that is going within our communities, we all need a break from the chaos and mayhem, and when we are looking for that escape, watching a film is sometimes that remedy we seek.”

Films from the BOBH (which began June 28 and runs through July 29) will be highlighted at BHFF (August 5 – 31). Selected films include All the Difference, Saving Barbara Sizemore, Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey, I Destini, Intersection, Road Trip, Shinemen and The Big Chop. Films are selected by Chavers, Barbara Scharres (Director of Programming) and Marty Rubin (Associate Director of Programming).

Screenings will be held at the following libraries: Wrightwood Ashburn, Legler, Douglass and Coleman. Libraries are selected by GSFC, and the home offices of the CPL.

The GSFC aims to select positive films that are appropriate for all ages. “We look for films that are more local so that we could have the filmmaker present,” de St Aubin adds, “People in neighborhoods and out in the community can actually meet a filmmaker, have a discussion with a filmmaker and also look at a filmmaker and say ‘She looks kind of like me. She’s from my neighborhood. Maybe I can be a filmmaker.’ And it sort of opens up their realm of what’s possible in their own life.”

Viewers are not the only ones who are taking notice of the cultural similarities. Chavers says, “Although I am not a filmmaker, I get excited when August approaches because I know that I am going to see people who look like me on screen.” She goes on to say that she enjoys knowing that there are Black people in other positions in the film industry, showing endless opportunities for greatness. Chavers thinks of her involvement with BOBH as engagement and enjoyment. “I have meet some incredible individuals in the past three years of BOBH, and I’ve enjoyed hosting the screenings within the Chicago Public Library branches.”

When asked about their hopes for BOBH, de St Aubin says “ We hope to broaden awareness of the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Black Harvest Film Festival. But we also really want to share the programming who live out in the neighborhoods.”

Chavers says, “I hope that more people will become engaged with BOBH and the Film Center; that the Chicago Tribune Foundation maintains its support of this series; and the Chicago Public Library continues its partnership with the Film Center. Additionally, I hope that the creativity within the Black film community is overflowing, so that we have continuous content to present.”

Two free tickets, to the BHFF, are given to each person who attends the BOBH. For more information please go to the Gene Siskel Film Center’s website.

© Stephanie A. Taylor (7/17/17) FF2 Media

Top Photo: Black Harvest Film Festival Logo

Bottom Photo: Saving Barbara Sizemore

Photo Credit: Gene Siskel Film Center

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Stephanie A. Taylor is a multi-award-winning journalist whose accolades span three publications including FF2. Some of her favorite articles she's written are Emma Cooper’s ‘The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Tapes, FACETS Honors Chaz Ebert F2F at Screen Gems 2022 Benefit, and Dorothy Arzner’s ‘Merrily We Go to Hell’ Discusses Modern Day Problems. She currently lives in Chicago. Reading, writing, and watching old films are some of her many passions.
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