Mike Gray here for west side fest on social justice


Legendary Chicago native documentarian Mike Gray of Los Angeles will help open the first North Lawndale Sundown in K-Town Film Festival – a partnership between Facets and the Better Boys Foundation – when it opens Wednesday, July 10.

“This is a fully fleshed out film festival dedicated entirely to social justice and social issues,” says Mary Visconti, BBD chief executive director.  “It’s important to note that all ten films deal with issues of the city’s west side.

“The festival offers a venue for work that is amazingly important and yet rarely screened.”

Gray’s groundbreaking The Murder of Fred Hampton, produced with Howard Alk, that opens the festival program “is particularly significant,” notes Visconti, “as Hampton, who was chairman of the Chicago Black Panthers at the time, had formed a partnership with BBF to provide free breakfasts for neighborhood children in the 1960s and Gray covers this initiative in his documentary.”

Hampton screens with the doc Cicero March, produced in 1966 by Mike Shea, one of Gray’s former partners in The Film Group, and 2010’s Proletariat by Kia Clair, a member of BBF’s FilmLAB@1512, who interviewed Fred Hampton, Jr. about his father’s legacy.

American Revolution 2, produced by Gray and Howard Alk, screens Tuesday, July 17 at BBF.

Facets idea to hold the west side festival

Mary Visconti, CEO of Better Boys FoundationFacets’ founder/executive director Milos Stehlik had the idea for a festival on the west side and reached out to Visconti about a partnering with them. 

Facets would organize the programs and BBF would provide the outdoor venue, a summer courtyard where BBD has held previous screenings of work by its FilmLAB@1512 apprenticeship program for African American teens, 13 to 19 years old. 

“As an event, Sundown in K-Town deepens an already strong partnership with Facets,” says Visconti.  “It brings culturally rich programming to a part of the city that has an incredibly rich cultural history, but that is incredibly neglected in terms of access to cultural arts programming.

“It also allows BBF to highlight the work of FilmLAB@1512 and it ends with a documentary about BBF. It’s awesome.”

At the panel discussion that follows, Gray will be joined by Billy Che Brooks, Former Deputy Minister of Education, Illinois Chapter, Black Panther Party, of which Hampton was a founder; Flint Taylor, Founding Partner, People’s Law Office and young filmmaker Clair.

For the July 12 program, panelists are Gordon Quinn, Kartemquin’s artistic director and legendary experimental filmmaker Tom Palazzolo, following the program: And This is Free, by Gray’s former Film Group partner Mike Shea, 1966, aJerry’s Deli, Palazzolo’s 1976 short and a 2010 film by Angelo Williams of FilmLAB@1512.

The Sundown fest will be held in the outdoor courtyard of the Better Boys Foundation at 1512 S. Pulaski, starting at dusk, about 8:15 p.m.  Doors open at 7:45 p.m. and it’s free and open to all.

Click here  to see the full festival schedule.  Mary Visconti may be reached at mary.visconti@betterboys.org or 773-542-7307 for further information.