Every year, the Black Harvest Film Festival serves as proof that the film industry here in Chicago is constantly growing and thriving. With so much talent in our city, there is no need to make that move to the East or West coast for film content- everything you need is right here. From Black filmmakers, producers, directors, and actors, the 25th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival is your chance to see the hard work and long hours put in by these artists finally debuted on the silver screen.

Black Harvest Film Festival American as Bean Pie 2019
American as Bean Pie 2019 Liz Toussaint

From August 3-29 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicagoans will have the opportunity to experience some of the most talented Chicago based filmmakers tell their diverse collections of stories surrounding blackness, coming of age, love and heartbreak, familial issues, and a variety of other themes that have not always been given a platform for discussion in our community. Striking visuals, outstanding acting, and compelling scripts and stories all work to ensure that these films resonate closely with audience members. Representation is powerful, and it is important that we see ourselves on screen, as well as behind the scenes. The Black Harvest Film Festival is an amazing chance to view all-Black casts working together to create a well-deserved spot for Black folk in the film industry, and to continue putting Chicago and the talent that exists here on the map. This year, the festival is creating more waves, as nearly one-third of the year’s films are directed by women- giving the stories and experiences by women of color a powerful platform.

Black Harvest Film Festival Love Tap 2019
Love Tap 2019 Gian Smith

We were fortunate to attend the Black Harvest Film Festival Kickoff, titled “The New Breed Film Showcase,” which highlighted millennial filmmakers based in Chicago. The kickoff featured four new films: Brothers From the Suburbs, Training Wheels, Shotgun Wedding, and Who is Jon Savêge, followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Lonnie Edwards, Sanicole, and Patrick Wimp. Melissa Duprey, a champion of diversity within the film industry who works to create a space for black narratives, moderated the event. The filmmakers discussed how they were motivated to tell stories that focus on love as opposed to violence.  The group also discussed changes that are currently taking place in the film industry. This pre-festival kickoff gave us a taste of what we can look forward to in the main event, and we were not disappointed. 

Each film in the Festival is eligible for an Audience reward, and each short film will be eligible for the Richard and Ellen Sandor Black Harvest Film Festival Prize. Opening night audience members will view the world premieres of five new short films by Midwestern directors, with filmmakers in person, in a program hosted by NBC Chicago’s LeeAnn Trotter. An after-show reception will follow.

The closing night of the festival will pay tribute to legendary director Spike Lee’s career, showing a 25th anniversary screening of his 1994 film Crooklyn. Joie Lee, actor/Co-screenwriter of the film is scheduled to be present for audience discussion.

Black Harvest Film Festival Chicago Guy 2019
Chicago Guy 2019 Shahari Moore

The Black Harvest Film Festival will take place from August 3-29 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, located at 164 N. State St.   Plan a trip to celebrate and support these talented artists and filmmakers that continue to shift the culture. We are excited to see what this year’s festival will bring and we are SO proud of our city. 

Find out more about the Black Harvest Film Festival at https://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/bhff25

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