For decades, Chicago’s Englewood community has been known as one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods; even recent revitalization efforts from institutions like Kennedy King College and contributions via native son, Chicago Bulls’ star Derrick Rose, have been overshadowed by an area that has long been mired in crime and violence.
But through the despair, there are still those like filmmaker and Englewood native Mark Harris, who haven’t given up on the neighborhood or its residents. “I’m from Englewood,” said Harris. “I’m from a community where we were told that we were never gonna make it, but I just pushed on. It’s just the spirit that I have.”
And it is through this spirit that Harris is bringing the Englewood Film Festival back to the South Side community. Now in its second year, the four-day festival (up two days from its inaugural year), complete with film screenings, workshops, panel discussions and more, is designed to shine a more positive light on the area.
Getting support for the festival was met with challenges; however, Harris acknowledges that things were more smooth this time out. “Because there was so much coverage last year, it was much easier this year–the doors were open just a little bit more.” In addition, the festival will also benefit from support from local actors, filmmakers and directors. “Last year, we had lots of support from the filmmaking community and this year, we definitely have more workshops and panels,” Harris said.
Along with workshops that focus on areas such as acting and producing, festival-goers can also view films and documentaries including The Wayman Tisdale Story and Walls that Bleed, as well as the opening night festival highlight, a screening of I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac. For Harris, opening the festival with a tribute to the late comedian was befitting. “Bernie Mac was born and raised in Englewood; I mean, what better film to play on our opening night?”
The Englewood Film Festival runs Thursday through Sunday, October 25-28; for more information on tickets and the full schedule lineup, visit the festival’s website.
By LaShawn Williams