Siskel Center names L’Soft as Black Harvest associate programmer

The Gene Siskel Film Center has named L’Soft (they/them) as its Black Harvest Film Festival Associate Programmer. 

In this new position for the Film Center, created with the aim of growing the Festival’s programming team and ensuring a thoughtfully and collaboratively curated lineup, L’Soft will work in tandem with Film Center Director of Programming Rebecca Fons and Black Harvest Film Festival co-founder and consultant Sergio Mims on planning the 27th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival, Chicago’s Black film festival, taking place in person and virtually from November 5 through December 2, 2021.

L’Soft’s responsibilities will include viewing film entries, helping to craft the festival schedule, and moderating panels and filmmaker discussions. He started with the Film Center on August 18 and will continue on a temporary, part-time basis through the duration of the 27th Black Harvest Film Festival.

L’Soft brings to the Film Center experience in filmmaking, film exhibition, and archival work. As Archives Associate and Education Programs Coordinator at the DuSable Museum of African American History, L’Soft helped facilitate special events and develop and facilitate educational programming aimed at making primary source materials accessible to the public.

As the Director of Rebuild Foundation’s Black Cinema House, L’Soft coordinated weekly screenings and discussions analyzing cinema of the African diaspora, including independent films from Chicago and abroad. L’Soft has also worked as a Project Manager at the University of Chicago Libraries. 

L’Soft holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology from Roosevelt University, where they participated in a two-week study abroad course in South Africa to study race, class, and gender inequality; and is currently pursuing their Masters of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign.

L’Soft centers their curation in ethics-driven intent, conceptualization, and dissemination of Black imagery and has curated and facilitated fellowship amongst Black artists, leaders and activists through Concerned Black Image Makers (CBIM), a collective co-founded in 2017.

“I’m thrilled to welcome L’Soft to the Gene Siskel Film Center team as our Black Harvest Film Festival Associate Programmer,” said Director of Programming Rebecca Fons. “L’Soft’s experience in the filmmaking and media arts communities of Chicago, as well as their enthusiasm for cinema that challenges audiences and inspires conversation ensures that we’ll have a dynamic and exhilarating lineup for the 27th year of Black Harvest.” 

“Thank you, Gene Siskel staff and constituents for the warm welcome! I’m excited to lend cultural literacy and my passion for Black cinema to the Black Harvest legacy. I’m especially looking forward to spotlighting unique, diverse narratives and voices of Chicago’s film community,” said L’Soft.

Entries for the 27th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival closed on Friday, August 27, with several films already confirmed for the festival, including I’M FINE, THANKS FOR ASKING from co-directors Kelley Kali Chatman, whose short film, “Lalo’s House,” won the inaugural Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Black Harvest Film Festival Prize in 2018; and filmmaker Angelique Molina , both of whom also co-star in the feature. The film tells the story of a recently widowed mother who, when she becomes homeless, pitches a tent and convinces her 8-year-old daughter that it’s a fun camping trip. As she works to find permanent housing, her daughter grows increasingly tired of weeks in the heat. 
 
Another official selection is EYIMOFE (THIS IS MY DESIRE), the confident feature film debut from brothers Chuko Esiri and Arie Esiri, which premiered earlier this year at the Berlin Film Festival. Shot on 16mm, the film is a hopeful and compassionate portrait of two distantly connected strangers in Lagos, Nigeria. 
 
Also running throughout Black Harvest will be a four-film retrospective of the work of groundbreaking photographer, writer, and filmmaker Gordon Parks, which will feature THE LEARNING TREE (1969), LEADBELLY (1976), MOMENTS WITHOUT PROPER NAMES (1986), and will culminate with afiftieth anniversary celebration of SHAFT (1971). Select films in the program, including SHAFT, will be presented on 35mm, and in collaboration with the Gordon Parks Foundation, Chicago Film Archives and Anthology Film Archives, who will be presenting their own Parks retrospective in December 2021. 


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