Siskel Center receives increased Allstate grant for Black Harvest Film Festival

The Allstate Corporation has granted the Gene Siskel Film Center $18,000 for the 24th annual Black Harvest Film Festival, the largest and longest-running Black Film festival in the Midwest – $8,000 will go toward The Best of Black Harvest West, an expansion of The Best of Black Harvest Film Festival. The new addition is located at BBF Family Services, formerly known as the Better Boys Foundation. Films will also be shown at the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance.

“We want to share the festival with neighborhoods,” Executive Director Jean de St. Aubin said. “We thought it will lead up to the actual festival here at the film center which should give two offsite locations a taste of the fest so that they can come to the festival. Most of the people who come to the screenings are youth and families; people who may not have access to coming Downtown. So, it’s a way of getting out of our Downtown location and sharing high quality cultural experiences throughout the city.”

Rufus Williams, CEO and President of BBF Family Services, says, “We have a holistic approach to everything, and certainly education. And, the need to bring forth more element of Black culture is one of the things we try to do in empowering our people. We’ve certainly been aware of the Black Harvest Film Festival for a while, and I knew that they were moving to engage more people in the communities. A member of the theatre myself having gone to the center, we thought it would be a good idea to bring some of these films to North Lawndale; recognizing that there may be different reasons why people from this community may not have been able to go down and see them when they were actually being shown through the festival itself. This a way to bring this here and show interesting stories and documentaries to people who may not see them otherwise. But should be exposed to these outlets.” Williams said the idea to be included came about between Dionne Nicole Smith (Associate Director of Development/Membership of GSFC), Waliy Eleim (Apprenticeship Coordinator of BBF) and himself.

Screenings will be shown monthly beginning March 10 through May 16. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be catered by Skyler Dees. The Black Harvest Film Festival runs from August 4-30. For more information please go to

© Stephanie A. Taylor (3/9/18) FF2 Media

Photos & Photo Credits: 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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