Cinema/Chicago News

Celebrate Black History Month with Director Talks

Published: February 1, 2021  |  Filed under: Festival News

MLK/FBI is now streaming through IFC Films

In celebration of Black History Month, the Chicago International Film Festival is proud to share a collection of director talkbacks from the 56th Festival in October 2020. Find where to watch these select films from the Black Perspectives program now below, and revisit the livestream Q&As hosted during the Festival below or on our YouTube playlist.

Additionally, the Festival’s Black Perspectives Committee hosted a discussion about the documentary MLK/FBI with director Sam Pollard on Wednesday, February 3 at 8:30pm CT. Watch it now on our YouTube channel.


Dir. Sam Pollard
Documentary Competition/Black Perspectives, 56th Chicago International Film Festival

It should come as no surprise that the FBI mounted a relentless campaign of surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but this astonishing documentary reveals both the shocking details of the operation and the complexity of the iconic man in its crosshairs. Using newly declassified files, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sam Pollard (Chicago International Film Festival’s “Best of the Fest” director of Two Trains Runnin’ and Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me) brilliantly weaves together revelatory restored archival footage, Hollywood movie clips, and interviews with key cultural figures to tell an astonishing and chilling story about power, racism, and the dark side of the U.S. government.

Streaming Details:
Watch now on VOD via the film’s official website.

Watch our exclusive livestream discussion with director Sam Pollard, moderated by journalist Lolly Bowean:

One Night in Miami

Dir. Regina King
Special Presentation/Black Perspectives, 56th Chicago International Film Festival

On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gather to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. When underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), defeats heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall, Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). Based on the award-winning play of the same name, One Night in Miami is a fictional account inspired by the historic night these four formidable figures spent together. It looks at the struggles these men faced and the vital role they each played in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 1960s. More than 40 years later, their conversations on racial injustice, religion, and personal responsibility still resonate.

Streaming Details:
Available on Amazon Prime Video.

Livestream Q&A with writer Kemp Powers moderated by Black Perspectives Committee Co-Chair Regina Taylor:

40 Years a Prisoner

Dir. Tommy Oliver
Black Perspectives/Documentary, 56th Chicago International Film Festival

This powerful documentary bears witness to the lifelong efforts of Michael Africa, Jr. to secure the freedom of his parents, who were incarcerated for four decades. Along with seven other members of MOVE, a Black Liberation group active in Philadelphia in the 1970s, Debbie and Michael Africa, Sr. were charged in the death of a police officer during a brutal raid by authorities at the end of that decade. Interviews with journalists, activists, and others, along with archival footage of the MOVE commune, are intercut with Michael Africa, Jr.’s ongoing battles with the courts. With uncanny resonance to our current moment, the film delivers a bracing examination of the embattled state of liberty in the face of a racially and politically biased justice system.

Streaming Details:
Available on HBO Max.

Livestream Q&A with director Tommy Oliver and subject Michael Africa, Jr.:

Farewell Amor

Dir. Ekwa Msangi
Black Perspectives, 56th Chicago International Film Festival

After 17 years in New York, working to support his family back in Angola, Walter has grown ever more comfortable living as a single man in the U.S. When wife Esther and daughter Sylvia are finally able to join him in the city, the three must find a way to reconnect as the time apart has rendered them virtual strangers. Arranged in chapters told from the perspective of each character, this insightful, beautifully conceived film captures the immigrant experience with finely detailed nuance, as Sylvia’s embrace of urban youth culture and dance sets the stage for an inevitable clash of values. From their colliding worlds, can they fashion an entirely new sense of home?

Streaming Details:
Available on VOD services.

Livestream Q&A with director Ekwa Msangi and actor Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine:

Sylvie’s Love

Dir. Eugene Ashe
Black Perspectives, 56th Chicago International Film Festival

In Sylvie’s Love, the jazz is smooth and the air sultry in the hot New York summer of 1957. When Sylvie (Tessa Thompson), the daughter of a record-shop owner (Lance Reddick), meets Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha), a saxophonist who gets a part-time job at the shop, the two begin a friendship that sparks a deep passion in each of them unlike anything they’ve felt before. Years after their summer romance comes to an end, Sylvie has success as a TV producer, while Robert tries to come to terms with what the age of Motown is doing to jazz, the music that defines his work. While life continues to take Sylvie and Robert in different directions, they cross paths again, only to find their feelings for each other remain the same. Writer-director Eugene Ashe combines romance and music into a sweeping story that brings together changing times, a changing culture, and the true price of love.

Streaming Details:
Available on Amazon Prime.

Livestream Q&A with director Eugene Ashe:

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