fbpx
< Back to Festival Program List
56th Chicago International Film Festival banner

Black Perspectives

Founded in 1997 in collaboration with Spike Lee to highlight the excellence and diversity of African American cinema and films by black filmmakers from around the world, this program celebrates the richness and diversity of African-American and Black storytellers from Chicago to the Ivory Coast to Venezuela


“-Ship: A Visual Poem” [Short Film]

Terrance Daye  |  United States
English  

A young boy wrestles with his sense of self on the day of his cousin’s funeral.

40 Years a Prisoner

Tommy Oliver  |   United States
Documentary, Family Affairs, Political, Social Commentary
English  

A bracing examination of the U.S.’s longstanding racially and politically biased justice system, this powerful documentary bears witness to the lifelong efforts of Michael Africa, Jr. to secure the freedom of his parents, members of 1970s Black Liberation group MOVE, who were incarcerated for four decades.

Bad Hair

Justin Simien  |   United States
Comedy, Horror
English  
Drive-in SOLD OUT
In this hilarious horror satire set in 1989, an ambitious young woman gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television, but her flourishing career comes at a cost when she realizes that her new hairstyle might have a mind of its own. As he did with his auspicious debut [...]

“Ethereality” [Short Film]

Kantarama Gahigiri  |  Switzerland/Rwanda
English  

A blend of fiction and documentary creates a moving reflection about migration, home, and belonging.

Farewell Amor

Ekwa Msangi  |   United States
Drama, Family Affairs, Romance
English  

After 17 years apart, Walter’s wife Esther and daughter Sylvia arrive in New York from Angola; time apart has rendered them virtual strangers, and the three must find a way to reconnect. This beautifully conceived film captures the immigrant experience with complexity and nuance.

“Gramercy” [Short Film]

Jamil McGinnis, Pat Heywood  |  United States
English  

A young New Jersey native returns to his hometown, where his ongoing battle with depression becomes a poetic exploration of brotherhood and personal struggle.

“Heaven Reaches Down to Earth” [Short Film] Legodimo Le Kopana Le Lefatshe

Tebogo Malebogo  |  South Africa
English, Zulu  

Tau and Tumelo journey across the South African landscape. When Tau comes to a realization about their sexuality, it sets in motion a cascade of thoughts and emotions.

Mama Gloria

Luchina Fisher  |   United States
Biopic, Documentary, LGBTQ, Sex and Sexuality, Social Commentary
English  

Meet Mama Gloria. Chicago’s Black transgender icon Gloria Allen emerged from the South Side’s drag ball culture in the 1960s to trailblaze a path for transgender youth to follow. With positivity and polish, she overcame prejudice and traumatic violence to become a proud leader in her community.

MLK/FBI

Sam Pollard  |   United States
Biopic, Documentary, Historical, Literary Adaptation, Political, Social Commentary
English  
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 [...]

Night of the Kings La nuit des rois

Philippe Lacôte  |  Côte d'Ivoire, France, Canada, Senegal
Drama, Mystery, Political, Thriller
Dioula, French, Nouchi  
A young man is sent to "La Maca,” a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits [...]

One Night in Miami

Regina King  |   United States
Biopic, Drama, Historical, Literary Adaptation, Social Commentary
English  
Streaming SOLD OUT

Adapted from the award-winning play of the same name, One Night in Miami is a fictional account of the incredible night in 1964 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).

“The Price of Cheap Rent” [Short Film]

Amina Sutton, Maya Tanaka  |  United States
English  

An aspiring artist discusses the challenges of finding affordable housing in a new city and the compromises she has to make with her spooky new roommates.

Shorts 7: Evidence of Things Unseen (Black Perspectives)

Various  |   Rwanda, South Africa, Switzerland, United States
English, Zulu  

This program showcases the talents of Black filmmakers from across the diaspora, painting a sweeping image of Black life in the United States and abroad. A collection of varied genres and styles, these films are reflective, observant, and sometimes hilarious. Featuring works by Terrance Day, Nico Opper and Shannon St. Aubin, Kantarama Gahigiri, Amina Sutton, Maya Tanaka, Tebogo Malebogo, and Pat Heywood and Jamil McGinnis.

The Special Especial

Ignacio Márquez  |  Venezuela, United States
Coming of Age, Drama, Family Affairs, Social Commentary
Spanish  

In this deftly told and uplifting debut, a profoundly charming young man must navigate the challenges of early adulthood with Down Syndrome as he seeks to build a life of independence from his troubled father. Long separated by an ocean of silence and shame, will the two men be able to assemble a common future?

Sylvie’s Love

Eugene Ashe  |   United States
Drama, Historical, Romance, Social Commentary
English  
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 [...]

“When I Write It” [Short Film]

Nico Opper, Shannon St. Aubin  |  United States
English  

A warm-hearted portrait of teenage summer days, When I Write It follows two young Oakland artists as they come to grips with the change all around them.