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Black Harvest Film Fest

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The Gene Siskel Film Center hosts the 9th Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video, Aug. 1-14. This annual showcase celebrating Black filmmaking worldwide has many faces and many aspects—and more screenings and guest artists than ever before. V103 Radio personality Bonnie DeShong serves as Honorary Chair of the festival, and will be honored on opening night with the Black Harvest Festival's first annual Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in Community Leadership.

'Some films that would be of particular interest to your readers in hip-hop drama ANNE B. REAL; local director Coquie Hughes' IF I WUZ YO GYRL (about violence in women's relationships); local director Yvonne Welbon's SISTERS IN CINEMA (a documentary about Black women in film); OF MEN AND GODS, about openly gay men in Haiti; and A RED RIBBON AROUND MY HOUSE, about Pinky, a flamboyant South African AIDS activist and mother with HIV,' said Karen Cross Durham of the fest.

They have a wealth of new films by African American independent directors, including five by Chicago filmmakers, representing vibrant new talent. African cinema is represented by a variety of documentary and dramatic films, including our opening night feature, the critically acclaimed MADAME BROUETTE from Senegal by Moussa Sene Absa (two of whose earlier films, ROCKING POPONGUINE and TABLEAU FERRAILLE, will also be playing during the first week). The festival includes films by directors of African descent as well as films that tell stories, raise questions, or touch on issues that resonate in contemporary world culture in relation to the African diaspora. Among the nations represented in this year's festival are the U.S.A., Canada, Haiti, Martinique, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, and France.

More than 10 guests will be here to discuss their work with the audience. The first weekend includes an appearance by ER-featured TV star Lynn A. Henderson with SHORT ON SUGAR. She will also take part in the panel discussion 'How to Get a Movie Made.' Director Lisa France and actress Janice 'JNYCE' Richardson will be present for the premiere of the rap-themed drama ANNE B. REAL, and the powerful documentary JIMMY SCOTT: IF YOU ONLY KNEW will be introduced by director Matthew Buzzell. Co-director Michael Skolnick introduces and discusses HOOKED: THE LEGEND OF DEMETRIUS 'HOOK' MITCHELL.

Chicago directors headline on the second weekend, with Yvonne Welbon in person with SISTERS IN CINEMA, and Chicago filmmakers Pamela Sherrod Anderson, LaTonya Croff, Roderick Kirkman, and Keith L. Ransfer each appearing for discussion with new short films.

Director Yvonne Welbon will appear for audience discussion at the Friday screening. Friday, Aug. 8, 8:15 p.m.; Tuesday, Aug. 12, 6:30 p.m.

Realizing, when she entered film school, that she had heard of only one other African American woman filmmaker (Julie Dash), Yvonne Welbon set out to find her 'sisters in cinema.' This entertaining and informative film reveals the history of Black women directors—a history whose obscurity is all the more amazing because most of it is so recent. Welbon tracks down, talks to, and/or shows clips of her neglected colleagues, from forgotten figures like race-movie pioneer Tressie Souders to more recent talents such as Cauleen Smith, Bridgett M. Davis, Alison Swan, and Vanessa Middleton who have often found it distressingly difficult to follow up their acclaimed first features. Beta SP video. (MR)

Gene Siskel Film Center School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 164 N. State St., Chicago, IL 60601, (312) 846-2600 (general information) (312) 846-2800 (hotline) .

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