Black Perspectives Program

Black Perspectives Program

The Chicago International Film Festival’s Black Perspectives Program was founded in 1997 in collaboration with Spike Lee to highlight the excellence and diversity of African American cinema and films by the African diaspora from around the world.

The Program has a long and rich history. Through the Program’s targeted efforts to showcase the work of emerging and established African American filmmakers, we have world premiered the first film by acclaimed director Ava Duvernay as well as featured work by American luminaries such as Lee Daniels, George Tillman, Jr. and Maya Angelou, among many others. The Program has also presented the most recent works of African masters (Djibril Diop Mambéty, Ousmane Sembene, Abderrahmane Sissako) and British filmmaker Steve McQueen. The Program has also featured an annual tribute, with honors and awards given to emerging and established film artists such as Viola Davis, Forest Whitaker, and Sidney Poitier.

Tribute Honorees

The Festival’s list of Black Perspectives Tribute Honorees is an impressive roster of the industry’s most lauded African American talents: Costume designer Ruth Carter (2018), Alfre Woodard (2017), director Charles Burnett (2015), Viola Davis (2012), Lee Daniels (2009), Sidney Poitier (2008), Ruby Dee (2006), Halle Berry (2001), Laurence Fishburne (2000), Morgan Freeman (1999), Pam Grier (1998), and Spike Lee (1997), among many others.

The 20th Anniversary of Black Perspectives (in 2016) featured a number of high-profile programs, including a Tribute to Steve McQueen; a Special Presentation of Moonlight, with director Barry Jenkins and cast in attendance; a 25th anniversary screening of Daughters of the Dust, with director Julie Dash in attendance, and the Chicago premieres of Two Trains Runnin’, with Oscar-nominated director Sam Pollard in attendance, and Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro.

Black Perspectives co-chair Randy Crumpton, actor Andre Royo, Black Perspectives co-chair Regina Taylor, honoree Steve McQueen, actor Cory Hardrict, director Qasim Basir, and actor Morocco Omari attend a Tribute to Steve McQueen as part of the 20th Anniversary of Black Perspectives.

Actress Regina Taylor with Career Achievement Award-recipient Alfre Woodard at the 48th Chicago International Film Festival

Actor Morgan Freeman receiving a Festival award

Costume designer Ruth Carter receiving a Career Achievement Award during the 54th Chicago International Film Festival

Actor, director, and activist Sydney Poitier speaking at the 44th Chicago International Film Festival after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award