Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video | Festival | Chicago Reader

Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video 

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This festival of work by black artists from around the world continues through Wednesday, August 31, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Unless otherwise noted, tickets are $9, $5 for Film Center members; for further information call 312-846-2800. Following are the programs scheduled for August 19 through 25; a complete festival schedule is available online at www.chicagoreader.com.

Au Pair Chocolate

Nothing works in this would-be comedy of manners (2004). Its depiction of class differences is so woefully outdated that the satire behind the premise--a well-heeled black couple hires a Harlem Latina to be their kids' nanny during a summer on Martha's Vineyard--has no bite. Continuity errors are rife, the dubbed dialogue is cringe-inducing, and even the credits are a mess (you'd think someone would have checked the spelling of actor Domenica Cameron-Scorsese's name). Benson McGrath directed this video from a script by his mother, Abigail; his father, Tony, chews the scenery in a supporting role. 87 min. (AG) Sat 8/20, 5:30 PM; Mon 8/22, 6:15 PM

Caged

Andre, who works in IT, feuds with his obnoxious white boss and his ex, with whom he shares custody. He thinks his drug-dealing brother is the only person he can really talk to, and as his life slides downhill, he shuts out everyone else who tries to help him, judging them solely by their flaws. Eldridge Valentine's low-budget, made-in-Chicago video preaches a familiar lesson about taking responsibility, and the acting and pacing are a bit ragged. But the dialogue is believable, and the depiction of a largely isolated black community feels authentic. 80 min. (FC) Fri 8/19, 8 PM; Wed 8/24, 6 PM

Families for Real

Three documentaries about African-American family life: Patricia Riggen's Family Portrait, Selena A. Burks's Saving Jackie (2004), and Hubert Davis's Hardwood (2004). 84 min. a Sun 8/21, 3:15 PM; Tue 8/23, 8 PM

Hot Chili

Former Columbia College film student Moabi Mogorosi wrote, directed, and stars in this pleasant Botswanan fable (48 min.) about a lowly village gardener whose love for the king's daughter is frowned upon by the royal family, which wants her married off to someone from her caste. Faced with a clutch of eager suitors, the king decides to settle the matter by marrying her to the victor of an amusing contest involving hot chilies. The success of this simple tale is due mainly to the witty lead performances by the two main rivals--Mogorosi as the resourceful gardener and Kabo Ditlhakeng as a vainglorious prince. In English and Setswanan with subtitles. Also on the program: Maurice Dwyer and Adetoro Makinde's 19-minute short In Time (2004). The producers of Hot Chili will attend the Saturday screening. (Reece Pendleton) Sat 8/20, 8 PM; Tue 8/23, 6:15 PM

Women at the Turning Point

Short films about black women: Rachel Benjamin's The Missing Peace, Vanessa Williams's Dense (2004), and Connie Robinson's The Message (2004). Robinson will attend the Saturday screening, Benjamin the Wednesday screening. Sat 8/20, 3 PM; Wed 8/24, 8:15 PM

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Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Bernhardt/Hamlet Goodman Theatre
September 14
Performing Arts
The Great Leap Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Upstairs Theatre
September 05

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