This festival of work by black artists from around the world runs Friday, August 4, through Thursday, August 31, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Unless otherwise noted, tickets are $9, $5 for Film Center members; for more information call 312-846-2800. Following is the schedule for August 4 through 10; a complete festival schedule is available online at www.chicagoreader.com.
Made in Chicago, Program I
Short works by local artists Kameisha Wooten, Lennel Davis, Lawrence White, and Jeff Marsten. 80 min. Wooten, Davis, and Marsten will take part in a discussion at the screening. a Fri 8/4, 8:15 PM.
Made in Chicago, Program II
Short works by local artists Mercedes Yolanda Cooper, Brian McQuery, Artel Kayaru, and Sonny Arthur. 80 min. Cooper, McQuery, and Arthur will take part in a discussion at the screening. a Wed 8/9, 8:15 PM.
My American Nurse
With its crappy synth score, incompetent camera work, and amateurish acting, this cross-cultural comedy is barely watchable. Pascal Atuma wrote, directed, and stars as an LA cabdriver who returns to his native Nigeria to take a bride and brings her back to the U.S., where her new girlfriends give her a lesson in take-no-prisoners feminism. In English and subtitled Igbo. 100 min. (JJ) Atuma and other members of the cast and crew will attend the screening. a Sat 8/5, 6 PM.
Genial indie comedy about a no-account actor (Dorian Missick) trying to win back his old girlfriend (Zoe Saldana) before she marries--ye gods!--an attorney (Hill Harper of Love, Sex & Eating the Bones). There's something inherently creepy in this story line no matter how many rom-coms have recycled it, though writer-director Pete Chatmon, making his feature debut, cagily subverts the premise by suggesting the actor's real problem is his own fecklessness. Early scenes reminiscent of Hollywood Shuffle spoof the typecasting of African-Americans as pimps and drug dealers, but when the hero finally lands an audition for a dignified role in a serious film he falls flat on his face. With Frankie Faison. 97 min. (JJ) a Sat 8/5, 8:30 PM, and Thu 8/10, 6:30 PM.
Robin Givens plays an unhappy, self-centered housewife who gets her husband to move out without giving him a reason, then slaps a restraining order on him and slowly drives him mad. Usually there are two sides to every failed marriage, yet the wife here is so detestable one wonders whether writer-director Reggie Gaskins (who costars as the couple's lawyer friend) is working off some sort of grudge. The lack of perspective makes this 2005 drama depressing and not especially edifying. With Sean Blakemore. 106 min. (JR) a Mon 8/7, 8:15 PM, and Thu 8/10, 8:30 PM.
A club DJ (Russell G. Jones) finds his life endangered after his two brothers botch a heist in this absorbing, tightly plotted crime story (2005). Cinematographer Beecher Cotton works micro-budget wonders shooting in Super 16, particularly in the club sequences and a shootout at a woodland hideaway. The gritty action is leavened with comic scenes showcasing Jacqui Parker as the street-smart owner of a local diner and Will Lyman and Lonnie Farmer as deadpan cops who seem to have stepped out of a Tom Stoppard play. Robert Patton-Spruill directed his own script; with Tony Todd and music by RjD2 and Twice Thou. 88 min. (AG) Video projection. a Fri 8/4, 6:30 PM, and Tue 8/8, 9 PM.
Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela
Thomas Allen Harris's late stepfather was one of 12 young men who fled Bloemfontein, South Africa, in 1960 to help build the African National Congress overseas; he walked 1,300 miles to Dar es Salaam and eventually settled in the Bronx. It's an important, even epic story, but Harris throws barely relevant personal information into this 2005 video--the stepfather drank too much, their relationship was troubled. Worse, he combines interviews with witnesses to his stepfather's struggle and reenactments shot in South Africa in a similar style--an uneasy mix of reality and fiction that's more appropriate to a TV docudrama and that makes the truth annoyingly fuzzy. 74 min. (FC) Harris will attend the screening. a Sun 8/6, 5:15 PM, and Mon 8/7, 6 PM.