Blacklight International Film Festival | Festival | Chicago Reader

Blacklight International Film Festival 

The 11th edition of the annual festival of black independent films continues through Sunday, August 9, at the Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, and at Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton. Tickets are $5, with discounts available to Blacklight and Film Center members. For more information call 443-3737 or 281-4114.


LAST DATE: ERIC DOLPHY A Dutch documentary by Hans Hylkema about the highly talented jazz reedman and flutist Eric Dolphy, who played memorably with Chico Hamilton, Charles Mingus, and John Coltrane as well as in groups of his own before dying at the age of 36. The film's cowriter, Thierry Bruneau, traveled to New York and Los Angeles to document Dolphy's beginnings; footage of Dolphy performances in Oslo and Stockholm is included (1991). (Film Center, 6:00)

RIGHT ON! THE ORIGINAL LAST POETS A fascinating time capsule--shot in 1968, released in 1970--this is a filmed performance of three angry, talented black poets. Gylan Kain, Felipe Luciano, and David Nelson recite their highly rhythmic, passionate work to AfroCuban percussion (with occasional flute and guitar) on a rooftop and in other urban ghetto settings, working out a highly politicized poetics that anticipates rap while conveying much of the essence of black-power rhetoric of the late 60s. More than a simple objective rendering of an event, this film is interspersed with cutaways and found footage in a very effective fashion by director Herbert Danska, probably best known for his 1967 jazz feature with Dick Gregory, Sweet Love, Bitter. To be shown on video. (Facets Multimedia Center, 7:00 and 9:00)

WITHIN OUR GATES It seems a pity that the controversial black film pioneer Oscar Micheaux (1854-1951) is known nowadays mainly for his technically rough and transgressive sound films, when some evidence, such as his Body and Soul (1924), suggests that his real skills were in silents. His 1919 Within Our Gates premiered in Chicago in early 1920, but was subsequently banned, apparently because of its treatment of a southern lynching; only recently rediscovered, it was shown at the Spanish Filmoteca in Madrid last year. For the film's second Chicago appearance Blacklight commissioned live musical accompaniment; Edward Wilkerson composed the score, which will be performed by his group 8 Bold Souls and the Shadow Vignettes String Quartet. (Film Center, 8:30)


BLACK CANADIAN FILMMAKERS Two short narrative features. Alfons Adetuyi's Survivors dramatizes the impact of AIDS on a black family, and Clarence Hamilton's Sketches for Triangles (1990) is an experimental drama about two cousins who find themselves on opposite sides of a government cover-up. (Film Center, 3:30)

RELATIONSHIPS Also known as Yeah, My Heart Beats Loud, Melissa Pearson's American independent feature focuses on two half sisters with different mothers, one black and one white; with Eisa Davis, Marlene Forte, Susan Pearson, and original music by Branford Marsalis and vocalist Phyllis Hyman (1991). On the same program, Michael and David on the Beach, a short by Chicago filmmaker Martin L. Hudson. (Film Center, 6:00)

RIGHT ON! THE ORIGINAL LAST POETS See listing under Friday, August 7. (Facets Multimedia Center, 7:00 and 9:00).

WHO NEEDS A HEART A feature by English filmmaker John Akomfrah (Testament) that explores the life of black-power leader Michael X through a fictional treatment of the lives of his friends and disciples (1991). On the same program, just a Matter of Time, a short by Chicago filmmaker Ken Earl (1991). (Film Center, 8:30)


IN SEARCH OF OUR FATHERS A personal essay film by Marco Williams that documents his seven-year attempt to locate his father--a journey into the history of his family, which includes four generations of women raising children without men. On the same program, Without a Pass, Williams's 1991 short about a black musician returning to the U.S. from Paris after a quarter century's absence. (Film Center, 2:00)

BLACK TO THE PROMISED LAND See Critic's Choice. (Film Center, 4:30)

RIGHT ON! THE ORIGINAL LAST POETS See listing under Friday, August 7. (Facets Multimedia Center, 5:30 and 7:30)

TA DONA Adama Drabo's feature from Mali follows a young forestry-commission employee who leaves his village in search of a plant with legendary healing powers and other ancestral secrets (1991). (Film Center, 7:00)

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