Gene Siskel Film Center of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Announces the Full Program for the 29th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival

Featuring a John Singleton Retrospective with Justice Singleton in person; Cord Jefferson’s satirical comedy AMERICAN FICTION; BLACK BARBIE: THE DOCUMENTARY; MAXINE’S BABY: THE TYLER PERRY STORY; and more

Member tickets & festival passes on sale now! 

CHICAGO, Oct. 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center is pleased to announce the complete festival program and schedule for its 29th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival. This highly anticipated event will take place in person at the Gene Siskel Film Center from Friday, November 3, through Thursday, November 16. The 29th Black Harvest Film Festival proudly showcases 20 feature films, 10 short film programs, special presentations and engaging discussions, in addition to a heartfelt tribute to the visionary director John Singleton. The festival will facilitate Q&A sessions, celebrations and special events, with star appearances and special guests including directors, cast members and a vibrant community of Black filmmakers and enthusiasts.

The 29th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival celebrates “Revolutionary Visions,” the history, politics and art honoring the remarkable legacy of revolutionary struggle across the Diaspora and the Black experience worldwide.

In recognition of the significant contributions of the late Sergio Mims (Sunrise and Sunset 1955-2022), cofounder of the Black Harvest Film Festival, this year’s festival pays homage to his legacy as a visionary and film pioneer. Twenty-nine years after he first envisioned Black Harvest, his unwavering dedication to Black uplift and the Black cinema community has left an indelible mark. The festival stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Black visionaries and the timeless wellspring of Black creativity that resonates across generations.

“It brings me immense joy and honor to serve as lead curator for the 29th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival, a stunning celebration of ‘Revolutionary Visions.’ Together, we bear witness, testifying on each other’s behalf, seeing one another, recognizing that our shared history tethers our futures,” said Black Harvest Film Festival Lead Curator Jada-Amina Harvey.

Black Harvest Film Festival Highlights

  • Opening Night, November 3: NBC Chicago entertainment reporter LeeAnn Trotter will emcee the night, presiding over a showcase of select Black Harvest Film Festival short films and the announcement of the winners of The Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Black Harvest Film Festival Prize. This year marks the sixth year that a $1,000 prize will be awarded to a short film, and the third year a $2,500 prize will honor a feature film. The Black Harvest Film Festival jury, featuring the esteemed Maya S. Cade, Justice Singleton and Paige Taul, will grace the occasion to announce the Sandor Prize winners. Following the program, attendees are cordially invited to a reception in the lobby.
  • John Singleton Retrospective: John Singleton’s cinematic legacy will be honored with a five-film retrospective. Filmmaker, scholar and poet Justice Singleton, son of the late John Singleton, will join for an engaging in-person discussion.
  • Chicago Premiere of MAXINE’S BABY: THE TYLER PERRY STORY: The festival will conclude on November 16 with the Chicago premiere of MAXINE’S BABY: THE TYLER PERRY STORY, a tender and intimate portrait of the billionaire writer, actor, filmmaker, studio head and media mogul, with directors Gelila Bekele and Armani Ortiz in person.
  • Special Presentation of Cord Jefferson’s AMERICAN FICTION: A special presentation of Cord Jefferson’s satirical comedy AMERICAN FICTION, based on Percival Everett’s 2001 novel Erasure, starring Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae, Adam Brody, Erika Alexander, and Leslie Uggams.
  • Chicago Premiere of BLACK BARBIE: THE DOCUMENTARY: Chicago premiere of Lagueria Davis’s documentary BLACK BARBIE: THE DOCUMENTARY, capturing the profound impact of Black Barbies on girls, followed by a virtual director Q&A.
  • Screening of SYMBOL OF THE UNCONQUERED: A special screening of Oscar Micheaux’s timeless 1920 silent film SYMBOL OF THE UNCONQUERED, accompanied by a live, improvised electronic music score performed by the talented trio of saxophonist Edward Wilkerson and guitarists Jeff Parker and Jonathan Woods.
  • Homegrown Stories: The Black Harvest Film Festival will proudly showcase several homegrown stories, including:
    • Two collections of locally made short films
    • NO COP ACADEMY: A DOCUMENTARY, Caullen Hudson’s chronicle of the city of Chicago’s plan to build a state-of-the-art “cop academy”
    • KINKY AND LOVING IT, David Weathersby’s empowering documentary highlighting the transformative potential of reclamation, plus a post-screening kink vendor fair and reception

Tickets and Passes

Festival passes and individual member tickets for the Black Harvest Film Festival are available for purchase. Tickets will be available to the general public on Friday, October 13.

  • Tickets are $13, with Film Center members paying only $6.50 per ticket.
  • Students with a valid school ID pay $8.
  • SAIC students, staff and faculty pay $5 for regular film presentations.

Black Harvest Film Festival passes are $60 and can be redeemed for six regular film presentations (excluding Opening Night). Film Center members will pay only $30 for the six-film festival pass.

Opening Night tickets are $40 (general audience), $35 for students and $25 for Film Center members and SAIC staff, students and faculty.

Full Program

Find the full 29th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival program here.
Note that showtimes and guest appearances are subject to change.

About the Black Harvest Film Festival

Each year since 1994, the Gene Siskel Film Center has presented the annual Black Harvest Film Festival, the midwest’s largest and longest-running Black film festival. Cofounded by the late Sergio Mims and celebrated as one of the largest Black film festivals in the world—and the only month-long Black film festival in the Midwest—the Black Harvest Film Festival is a celebration of independent films that tell the stories and explore the images, heritage and history of the full range of Black experience. The Black Harvest Film Festival features Chicago premieres of features, documentaries and shorts; filmmaker appearances; panel discussions and special events. The Black Harvest Film Festival supports the Gene Siskel Film Center’s ongoing mission to present inclusive and insightful programming.

The Film Center extends its gratitude to Gilead Sciences Inc., BMO Harris, ComEd, The Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council, who have generously provided funding for this year’s festival.
Media sponsors include
NBC 5 Chicago and WTTW Chicago.
Festival hospitality sponsors are The Godfrey, StayPineapple and theWit.
Media partners are WBEZ Chicago, The Chicago Reader and The Bulletin.

About the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Gene Siskel Film Center is Chicago’s premier art house cinema in the heart of the theater district, bringing film lovers together for an unparalleled movie-going experience. The Film Center presents a curated collection of eclectic international, independent and classic cinema with festivals and year-round programming while striving to provide a welcoming space reflective of Chicago’s diverse community. As a public program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Film Center fosters dialogue that sets films in historical and cultural context through panels, lectures and filmmaker conversations.

About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program ranked number two by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave and LeRoy Neiman.

Lori Hile
[email protected] 


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