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Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video

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This festival of work by black artists from around the world continues through Thursday, August 31, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Tickets are $9, $5 for Film Center members; for more information call 312-846-2800.

Half Nelson

Ryan Gosling stars as an idealistic inner-city schoolteacher who forms an unlikely bond with one of his students after she discovers his crack addiction. Ryan Fleck directed this drama, scheduled for a commercial release on September 15. a Wed 8/30, 8:15 PM.

Joebell and America

Asha Lovelace's 2005 video follows a Trinidadian con man's attempt to get into the States. a Mon 8/28, 8:15 PM, and Thu 8/31, 6:30 PM.

R King Leopold's Ghost

Based on Adam Hochschild's book of the same title, this tautly constructed, information-packed 2005 documentary uses archival footage and photos to present the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo from the colonial era to the present as one of unspeakably brutal exploitation. Carved out of the jungle in the late 19th century by Belgium's King Leopold, who pitted native against native and used rootless orphans as soldiers, it was his personal property until he sold it to the Belgian state in 1908; even after independence in 1960 it was ruled by corrupt dictators and suffered through devastating civil wars. 104 min. (FC) Producer-director Pippa Scott (an actress in The Searchers) and coproducer Glory Friend will attend the screening. a Sat 8/26, 8 PM.

One Ordinary Woman, One Extraordinary Life

This 2005 digital documentary by Tracie Dean Ponder examines the life of her mother, who raised eight children by herself in a Chicago housing development. Also on the program: James Edwards's DV short Family Musings (2005). 78 min. Edwards will attend the screening. a Sun 8/27, 5:15 PM.

The Promise Keeper

Three aggressive partners in a Chicago law firm try to resolve their differences by making vows before the new objet d'art in their lobby, an Afro-Caribbean nail fetish with some powerful mojo, and after breaking their vows they're stalked by a strange beast. This half-baked 2005 horror flick was shot on high-definition video by Bo Hakala, who contributes ominous images of downtown skyscrapers and handsomely lit interiors. But once writer-director Martin Whitehead has unleashed the movie's crimson bogeyman, his underdeveloped story collapses into mumbo jumbo and a feeble ending. 70 min. (AG) a Fri 8/25, 8:15 PM, and Tue 8/29, 8:15 PM.

Sex African American Style

Shorts by Nicole Franklin, Kelsey Scott, David Koepp, Phil Ramuno, Antonia March and Jacquelyn McKinley, and Najaa Young. 86 min. a Sat 8/26, 6 PM, and Thu 8/31, 8:30 PM.

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