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Going beyond its Black Harvest Film Festival in August, Gene Siskel Film Center presents new, restored, and popular films to celebrate the Black experience year-round.

New 35mm print!


1981/2000, Edo Bertoglio, USA, 75 min.

With Jean-Michel Basquiat, Deborah Harry, Arto Lindsay, John Lurie

“An extraordinary real-life snapshot of hip, arty, clubland Manhattan in the post-punk era.”—Brendan Kelly, Variety

“A nostalgic portrait of pre-Giuliani Manhattan, an unruly place full of garbage, graffiti, rubble-strewn lots, unlicensed after-hours clubs and highly idealistic kids eager to make their mark as avant-garde artists and musicians.”—Dave Kehr, The New York Times


Scripted by influential columnist/editor/scenester Glenn O'Brien, this fascinating artifact was shot in 1980-1 under the title NEW YORK BEAT, interrupted by business problems, and completed twenty years later.  The real Jean-Michel Basquiat, 19 years old and not yet famous, appears as a fictionalized version of himself.  Evicted from his apartment, he wanders charismatically through the Lower Manhattan downtown scene, scrawling soon-to-be-priceless graffiti and listening to now-vintage musical acts, including DNA, The Plastics, Tuxedomoon, James White and the Blacks, and Kid Creole & the Coconuts.  New 35mm print.


December 13—18

Fri., 12/13 at 2:15 pm and 6:15 pm;

Sat., 12/14 at 8 pm;

Mon., 12/16 at 6:15 pm;

Wed., 12/18 at 8:15 pm

Back by popular demand!


2019, Stanley Nelson, USA, 114 min.

"A tantalizing portrait: rich, probing, mournful, romantic, triumphant, tragic, exhilarating, and blisteringly honest."—Owen Gleiberman, Variety


"Humanises a musical genius and ends up giving us an engrossing, hilarious, informative look at the Miles Davis that music fans thought they knew."—Jake Watt, Switch


Jazz giant Miles Davis was one of the most colossal and complex figures of twentieth-century music, his personal demons and creative drive fueling a capacity for continual self-reinvention.  No film could hope to encompass such a copious subject, but expert documentarian Stanley Nelson (THE BLACK PANTHERS) does a remarkable job of giving shape to Davis's prodigious life and career.  His many musical evolutions are lucidly charted, from his bop beginnings through his game-changing excursions into lyrical cool, modal bop, fusion, and late-career pop.  Passages from his autobiography, voiced by Carl Lumbly in Davis's distinctive rasp, take us through his battles with racism, substance abuse, and anger.  Especially notable among the many interviews are revealing reminiscences from his great loves, French singer Juliette Greco and first wife Frances Taylor, both fated to become way stations in Davis's eternally restless journey.  DCP digital. 


December 20—26

Fri., 12/20 at 3:45 pm and 7:45 pm;

Sat., 12/21 at 7:45 pm;

Sun., 12/22 at 5:00 pm;

Mon., 12/23 at 6 pm;

Thu., 12/26 at 7:45 pm



Chicago premiere!



2013, Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie, France, 88 min.

“Vividly drawn…charmingly old-school…there’s much to feast one’s eyes and ears on here.”—Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter

“Rich in word games, funny, always sharp and lively, makes you smile and reflect.”—Alice Casalini, Cinemafrica


The production team behind THE RABBI’S CAT brings this coming-of-age graphic novel to the screen with all its wry, culturally acute West African humor intact.  Never before released in the U.S., AYA OF YOP CITY weaves colorful tales of romantic misadventure around Aya, Bintou, and Ajoua, three lively best friends on the cusp of young adulthood in a working-class Ivory Coast suburb.  Even as they party the nights away, level-headed Aya dreams of becoming a doctor, while her BFFs flaunt their assets and lay snares for men with money.  A convenient lie scores Ajoua a shotgun marriage to the shiftless son of a brewery magnate, and Bintou gets stars in her eyes when a visitor from Paris flashes his cash.  Three dramas connect deliciously by way of the neighborhood grapevine, and comeuppance is just around the corner.  Note:  Includes adult situations and sexual references.  In French with English subtitles.  DCP digital. 


December 27—January 2

Fri., 12/27 at 4:15 pm and 8:15 pm;

Sat., 12/28 at 3:15 pm;

Sun., 12/29 at 5:15 pm;

Mon., 12/30 at 6 pm;

Thu., 1/2 at 8:15 pm



2019, Kasi Lemmons, USA, 125 min.

With Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr.

"A rousing and powerful drama."—A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"I made a decision early on [that] I wanted this to be a movie you could take a sophisticated 10-year-old to.  He could see it with his grandmother, and they could both really enjoy it."—Kasi Lemmons

Harriet Tubman, one of the most heroic figures in American history, gets a long-overdue screen treatment in this stirring biopic of the young slave woman who escaped to Philadelphia and then returned time and again to lead other slaves to freedom.  Director Lemmons (EVE'S BAYOU) said that she wanted to avoid both "slavery porn" and the "fuzzification" of African American heroes.  As brought to life by the intense and edgy performance of Cynthia Erivo (Tony-winner for The Color Purple), Harriet comes across as believably obstinate, impulsive, and passionately, even recklessly driven.  Lemmons makes frequent use of gospel hymns and Harriet's mystical visions to underscore the importance of music and spirituality in African American life, while the effective use of Nina Simone's "Sinnerman" and action-movie tropes (including shout-outs to THE FUGITIVE and JAWS) give the film a more contemporary resonance.  DCP digital widescreen. 


January 3—9

Fri., 1/3 at 3:45 pm and 8 pm;

Sat., 1/4 at 5 pm and 7:45 pm;

Sun., 1/5 at 3 pm;

Mon., 1/6 at 7:45 pm;

Tue., 1/7 at 6 pm;

Wed., 1/8 at 7:45 pm;

Thu., 1/9 at 6 pm




2019, Matt Wolf, USA, 87 min.

Friday, January 10, 4:00 pm and 7:45 pm
Saturday, January 11, 7:45 pm
Tuesday, January 14, 6:00 pm

“Compelling…weirdly exhilarating.”—Glenn Kenny, The New York Time
 “Remarkable…weird and often quite moving.”—Kate Erbland, Indiewire


In the course o roughly thirty years, Marion Stokes, a Philadelphia African American librarian, leftwing activist, and borderline hoarder, obsessively recorded more than 70,000 VHS tapes charting news events large and small, national and local, as seen on TV — from the Iran hostage crisis to Sandy Hook.  This oddly compelling documentary pieces together the bizarre story of the creation of a vast and now historically priceless unfiltered archive of news events as they unfolded simultaneously on multiple channels of network television.  Was she an obsessive crank or a brilliant visionary?  Filmmaker Wolf delves into the life of a woman with a drive to ferret out truth in the public realm.  Her second marriage to a wealthy like-minded man enabled her to pursue her passion day and night, even as it alienated families and turned them both into hermits.  DCP digital.


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All screenings and events are at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, located at 164 N. State St.


Tickets to each screening--unless stated otherwise—are $12/general admission, $7/students, $6/Film Center members, and $5/Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) staff and School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) faculty, staff, and students. Friday matinee tickets are $8 each. All tickets may be purchased at the Film Center Box Office. Both general admission and Film Center member tickets are available through the Gene Siskel Film Center’s website or through the individual films’ weblinks on There is a surcharge of $1.50 per ticket. The Film Center and its box office are open 5:00 to 9:00 pm, Monday through Thursday; 1:00 to 9:00 pm, Friday; 2:00 to 9:00 pm, Saturday; and 2:00 to 6:00 pm, Sunday.


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A Gene Siskel Film Center membership is a year-round ticket to great movies for only $6 per screening! Memberships are $50 (Individual) and $80 (Dual). For more information, call 312-846-2600 or visit


Discounted parking is available for $19 for 24 hours at the InterPark SELF-PARK at 20 E. Randolph St. A rebate ticket can be obtained from the Film Center Box Office.


The Film Center is located near CTA trains and buses. Nearest CTA L stations are Lake (Red line); State/Lake (Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple lines); and Washington (Blue line). CTA bus lines serving State St.: 2, 6, 10, 29, 36, 62, 144, and 146. 


For more information about the Film Center, call 312-846-2800 (24-hour movie hotline) or 312-846-2600 (general information, 9:00 am-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday), or visit


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About the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago 

Since 1972, the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago has presented cutting edge cinema to an annual audience that has grown to over 100,000. The Film Center’s programming includes annual film festivals that celebrate diverse voices and international cultures, premieres of trailblazing work by today’s independent filmmakers, restorations and revivals of essential films from cinema history, and insightful provocative discussions with filmmakers and media artists. Altogether, the Film Center hosts over 1,700 screenings and 200 filmmaker appearances every year. The Film Center was renamed the Gene Siskel Film Center in 2000 after the late, nationally celebrated film critic, Gene Siskel. Visit to learn more and find out what’s playing today.


About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

For 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers, and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program ranked number two by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate, and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, and LeRoy Neiman. Learn more at



Keywords: Black Directors, Black Films, Gene Siskel

Posted in CAN TV, Community Highlights