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Chicago native Jada-Amina Harvey will lead curation, creative direction, programming and related events for The Art Institute of Chicago Gene Siskel Film Center’s 2023 Black Harvest Film Festival. The announcement was made as call for entry submissions begins. Nick Leffel has been named Festival Coordinator; Nick will support Jada-Amina in the curation of the festival and in coordination of community outreach, filmmaker discussions, and other special events. The 29th edition of the annual Black Harvest Film Festival will take place November 3 through 16.
Jada-Amina’s experience in filmmaking and curation and her immersion in Chicago’s contemporary art scene coupled with Leffel’s intimate knowledge of film and experience in film programming and community outreach ensures they will be thoughtful and gifted stewards of the next generation of this exceptional festival. Jada-Amina’s independent curation includes the touring screening series Not Far from Here (2018-2019), which featured a screening and dialogue with renowned director Charles Burnett.
Nick Leffel is an Asian and African filmmaker and film curator who assisted in programming the 28th Annual Black Harvest Film Festival and in the Film Center’s marketing and outreach. Leffel is also a film director known for ZORDOVIA, MY LOVE (2021), FLOWERS FOREVER (2022), and DAKHLA (2023).
“In addition to their keen and distinctive curatorial perspectives, Jada-Amina and Nick recognize and respect the history of Black Harvest, and its impact on filmmakers and audiences alike. They are thoughtful and gifted stewards of the next generation of this exceptional festival” said Gene Siskel Film Center Director of Programming Rebecca Fons.
Jada-Amina who holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, grew up attending the Black Harvest Film Festival. Leffel played a central role in programming the 2022 festival alongside the festival’s late co-founder Sergio Mims.
“As a South Side Chicagoan, I am thrilled to leverage the Gene Siskel Film Center’s resources in the interest of Black imagination,” said Jada-Amina. “In my new role, I look forward to honoring Black Harvest co-founder Sergio Mim’s original vision by exalting renderings of Black life on screen and diversifying Black representation in cinema.”
“I’m really excited to offer my experience and expertise for this year’s festival so that Black Harvest can continue being a cornerstone of community engagement and artistic leadership, not just in the film scene, but in the entire Chicago community as a whole,” said Nick Leffel, festival coordinator.
Co-founded in 1994 by Sergio Mims, who also served as the festival’s consultant until his passing in 2022, the Black Harvest Film Festival celebrates, explores, and shares the African Diasporic experience. Film submissions are now being accepted for the festival.
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