Siskel Center readies for 24th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival

The Gene Siskel Film Center’s 24th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival will begin Saturday August 4 and run through Thursday August 30 in Chicago. The BHFF consists of independent filmmakers with the themes surrounding African Americans and other ethnicities of African descent both nationally and internationally. 

“The 24th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival brings together a wide range of exceptional work this year, ranging from very exciting and engaging dramas and romantic comedies to superb and thought-provoking documentaries,” Director of Programming Barbara Scharres said. “The Gene Siskel Film Center is especially proud to feature so many filmmakers in person for audience discussion.” LeeAnn Trotter of NBC 5 Chicago will host Opening Night with the shorts program A Black Harvest Feast.

There will be a festival panel discussion on Saturday, August 25, “Action! The Real Deal About Filmmaking,” led by festival consultant Sergio Mims and will include directors Lawrence Lee Wallace and David Weathersby. Also included will be producer/writer Roberta Jones. Mims, whose involvement in the festival dates back to the mid-1980s, says the purpose of the BHFF is “To show the wide diversity of Black films being made, over the world. You have Black Panther. You have movies like Sorry to Bother You. But there are so many other movies being made. Also, locally, too–feature films and documentaries that fly under the radar and may not get the kind of attention that they should get. That’s the main reason why this festival exists. For people to see other types of wide diversity of Black cinema which is being made.”

The GSFC will also present its first Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Black Harvest Film Festival Prize, awarded every year to a director of a BHFF short film. Executive Director Jean de St Aubin says the prize is “specifically geared toward supporting a filmmaker of a short film in the Black Harvest Film Festival. The winning film will be chosen by a prestigious jury.”

The festival will include nearly
50 films with directors and writers in attendance for discussion and Q&As. Included but not limited to:

Writer/Director Nijla Mumin, Jinn. Feature. The film tells the story of Summer, (Zoe Renee) a 17-year-old girl whose world is changed when her recently divorced mother, Jade (Simone Missick) converts to Islam. The girl willingly follows suit.

Director Pamela Sherrod Anderson, The G Force. Documentary. The film sheds light on grandparents who raise their grandchildren instead of the parents. Anderson focuses on two households where the grandmothers are both the grandparents and the parents. The documentary also interviews legal and social services professionals.

Director Pam Sporn, Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route. Documentary. Sporn creates a documentary of a Black Detroit neighborhood with the zip code 48202. A mailman of 26 years, Wendell Watkins, takes us along his route to show a now impoverished area which was once a Black middle class neighborhood in its prime.

This festival is supported by the National Endowment of the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

For more information please go to

© Stephanie A. Taylor (7/18/18) FF2 Media

Featured Photo: Jinn from writer/director Nijla Mumin

Bottom Photo: Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route

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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