Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

The twenty eighth Black Harvest Movie Pageant, Nov. 4-20 in individual on the Gene Siskel Movie Heart, is not going to be just like the earlier 27.

Co-founder and chief programmer Sergio Mims died in October, a big loss for Chicago movie. Opening night time, and all throughout this 12 months’s competition, tributes to Mims ought to serve to remind audiences of the distinctive mixture of curator, critic, educator and cinephile.

Mims did a whole lot of work on the programming within the final months of his life. Movie Heart director of programming Rebecca Fons and programming intern Nick Leffel watched this 12 months’s pool of submissions and finalized the calendar. However the outcomes, the vary and the spirit are pure Sergio.

“His affect and curation runs by means of Black Harvest,” Fons advised me Thursday. From the beginning, she mentioned, a thirtieth anniversary screening of the Reginald Hudlin/Eddie Murphy comedy “Boomerang” (7 p.m. Nov. 20) topped Mims’ final of revival priorities.

“It was all the time his closing night time selection,” Fons famous, and it’ll be an event for audiences to “come wearing your ‘90s finest,” because the Movie Heart web site places it, for a post-screening reception.

Two different key titles of the final 50 years of mainstream Black cinema — director Sidney Poitier’s “Buck and the Preacher” (6 p.m. Nov. 9) and director Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” (7:15 p.m. Nov. 19) — flesh out this 12 months’s repertory titles. There’s additionally a rarity as soon as thought of misplaced: the restored 1973 Oakland-filmed crime drama “Solomon King,” screening 9 p.m. Nov. 11. The seminal Chicago title “Cooley Excessive” (8 p.m. Nov. 16) brings it residence, although it’s hardly the one Chicago film included on this 12 months’s array of recent and older options, brief movie packages, occasions and receptions.

Instance: If you happen to missed the PBS “American Masters” premiere earlier this 12 months of “Marian Anderson: The Entire World in Her Arms,” an unusually superb documentary directed by Illinois native Rita Coburn Whack, Black Harvest is offering a well-deserved showcase for it (6:15 p.m. Nov. 6).

Mims all the time had an eye fixed towards homegrown expertise. He additionally knew an amazing deal about classical and operatic music. For lots of causes, Fons mentioned, the Marian Anderson doc, an artfully finessed portrait of the good contralto, was “the very first movie Sergio mentioned he wished to incorporate this 12 months.”

Mims and Fons spent April by means of June this 12 months watching submissions for the 2022 competition, Fons mentioned, “assembly commonly to speak about what we appreciated and what we felt could be a superb match. Our conversations could be assorted, and often included some business shoptalk and musings on new movies in theaters that we had been each planning to see. We’d inevitably find yourself speaking about politics and shaking our heads, however the dialog all the time began and concluded with movie.”

Friday’s opening-night program, hosted by NBC-5′s LeeAnn Trotter, includes a shorts-film program; the presentation of the Black Harvest Legacy Award, this 12 months being given to producer, casting director, writer and Columbia School and Harpo Productions alum Sharon King; and the primary of the competition’s tributes to Mims.

The style, after all, is bittersweet. However this 12 months’s competition additionally reminds us of what one man completed in a too-short lifetime dedicated to cinema in each potential context.

I want I had identified him longer, and higher. He was nice enjoyable, an amazing on-camera sparring associate; we ended up on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” a few instances collectively and his tastes had been stunningly broad and knowledgeable. The final time I noticed him, only a few weeks earlier than his loss of life, he shared photographs of himself on stage on the TCM Basic Movie Pageant with TCM co-host and Academy Museum of Movement Footage president Jacqueline Stewart. It was, he mentioned, the best second of his profession.

What I bear in mind, primarily, is the time we shared in screening rooms. One time, we had been occurring concerning the Stanley Donen MGM musical “It’s All the time Honest Climate” — I imagine it was a nonacademic dialogue of Cyd Charisse’s dance quantity, “Child, You Knock Me Out” — and Mims talked about the Michael Kidd solo quantity that acquired reduce. I hadn’t heard about that. It’s floating round on YouTube, he mentioned. “It’s wonderful.” And it was.

I don’t know what film we noticed that day. Statistically it wasn’t prone to be memorable, however I bear in mind speaking with Sergio. Could he relaxation effectively, and will his spirit hover lengthy within the neighborhood of State Road and the Movie Heart.

Black Harvest Movie Pageant, Nov. 4-27, Gene Siskel Movie Heart, 164 N. State St.; full schedule at siskelfilmcenter.org/blackharvest.

Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.

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Twitter @phillipstribune

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