The mega-success of films like Black Panther has proven to many what Black folk have already known- that Blacks can be a successful and viable force in front of, or behind the camera lens.

Thankfully, the film buffs at Gene Siskel Film Center have long been ahead of the curve. This August, the venerable film center will present the 24rd Annual Black Harvest Film Festival– a month-long “celebration of the stories, dreams, history, and legacy of African Americans and the African diaspora, as interpreted by independent filmmakers from around the U.S. and abroad.”

Black Harvest will feature films covering the gamut of the Black life including Social Activism and community issues, Black love and relationships, artist biographies, Chicago-centric films, as well as comedies, dramas and sci-fi.

Black Harvest provides a rare opportunity to catch not only new stars on the rise, but some of your favorite film and TV stars in independent films.

A few films to look out for:


From the official website:  “Summer is a 17-year old carefree black girl, whose world is turned upside down when her mother, a popular meteorologist named Jade, abruptly converts to Islam and becomes a different person, prompting Summer to reevaluate her identity. ”   This unique coming of stage story stars Zoe Renee (BET’s The Quad) and Simone Missick (Luke Cage).   THIS looks like a winner.


A Boy. A Girl. A Dream

With Omari Hardwick’s career-turning role as Ghost in the hit TV show Power, one might think he’d be averse to starring in small independent films.  Thankfully, not so.  Hardwick, stars alongside Meghan Good in the new indy flick, A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.  

From the Siskel Film Center website, “Filmed in a single continuous take, this tour-de-force romance follows two strangers who meet by chance outside an L.A. nightclub. Cass (Hardwick of “Power”) is a club promoter with a stalled career as a filmmaker. Frida aka Free (Good of “Minority Report”) wanted to be a deejay but is now a lawyer about to fly back to the Midwest. They get off on the wrong foot, reconnect, Lyft it to a party in the Hollywood Hills, and face their futures in a Sunset Strip diner.

The cast also includes Jay Ellis, Kenya Barris, Dijon Talton, and Wesley Jonathan.


Then There Was Joe

From Siskel Film Center website:

“This highly entertaining blend of raucous comedy and heartfelt sentiment centers on the clashing personalities of two Arkansas brothers. Law-student Ben is strait-laced stickler who does everything right. Black-sheep older brother Joe is a smooth-talking operator who does everything wrong – most recently, getting arrested for a bungled robbery at a bowling alley filled with schoolchildren. The boys’ father, who happens to be a judge, puts Joe in Ben’s custody in the hope of bringing the mismatched siblings closer together. It isn’t long before Joe’s escapades put Ben’s bar exam and wedding proposal in jeopardy, as he is drawn into a world of car thieves, prostitutes, and coke dealers.  Then There Was Joe was inspired by the real life story of Director Justin Warren and his brother. “

The Black Harvest Film Festival will run from August 4 through August 10 at the Gene Siskel Film Center at 164 N. State St.  Find out more about the Black Harvest Film Festival at



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