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Chicago Urban League’s 2015 Black History Month Film Festival Features Documentaries on Pathos, Language & Overcoming Long Odds

Panels to follow each screening to encourage critical thinking and community action

CHICAGO (January 23, 2015) – The Chicago Urban League presents its fourth annual Black History Month Film Festival with an admission-free screening each week in February beginning at 6 p.m. at the Chicago Urban League, 4510 S. Michigan Ave. Four documentaries will be showcased that explore themes ranging from the provisional achievements of homeless youth to the etymology of the “N” word. The films and panel discussions following the screenings will give audiences an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue on issues, such as the causes and solutions to escalating crime and the misconceptions and stereotypes society thrusts on Black men.

“These gripping and inspirational documentaries hold a mirror to the universal realities of the African American experience, as well as chronicle the plight and triumphs of families and youth right here in our Chicago neighborhoods,” said Andrea L. Zopp, President and CEO, Chicago Urban League. “As the Chicago Urban League approaches 100 years of being in the forefront of providing vital programs for the community, we invite everyone to witness these powerful stories, participate in meaningful dialogue and engage in thoughtful action to propel the movement forward.”

The Chicago Urban League’s Black History Month Film Festival was established in 2012 to provide an accessible forum to showcase cinema that celebrates historic African American achievement and examines current community challenges. The films include comments from celebrities in music, sports and drama, as well as chronicle the extraordinary lives of everyday people. The panel discussions allow the community to explore strategic solutions towards empowerment and provide an opportunity for audiences to come face-to-face with African American filmmakers.

The film screenings and discussions are free and open to the public. Registration is desired. Please RSVP to with the film title in the subject line.

Films confirmed for the 2015 Black History Month Film Festival include:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 6:00 PM
The “N” Word Divided We Stand, explores the etymology of the word “nigger” while looking at African-American culture from a non-colorblind lens. Celebrities including Quincy Jones, Russell Simmons, George Carlin, Damon Dash and Bryant Gumbel give their takes on one of the most inflammatory words in the English language. In its long and complex history, the word “nigger” has gone from a cutting racial slur to a term of endearment among African-American youth. Despite this, the word still enrages when taken out of this context. In 86 minutes, filmmaker Todd Williams breaks the taboo of language to reveal a society constantly trying to make sense of a dark past while attempting to build a brighter future.


Thursday, February 12, 2015 6:00 PM

Afraid of Dark is an insightful and entertaining, yet remarkably serious, documentary that aims to destroy the misconceptions and stereotypes that have often cost Black men their lives. “Afraid of Dark” offers a genuine look at Black men through the eyes of Brooklyn, N.Y., filmmaker and Chicago native Mya B., revealing the beauty in diversified strength, leadership and challenges — a reality that has often been distorted.  Why is the world so afraid of dark?


Tuesday, February 17, 2015  6:00 PM Smile is an independently funded documentary that chronicles the story of a Chicago family who has endured unbelievable violence and turmoil in an inner-city community where murder has risen to epidemic levels. The film, by Marquis Daisy, examines the stark realities of mental illness and apathy, diseases that allow for senseless violence to numb the psyches of those who live with it. “Smile” centers largely on the Newtons, a Black family from the South Side of Chicago.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015 6:00 PM In The Homestretch three homeless teens brave Chicago winters, the pressures of high school and life alone on the streets to build a brighter future. These kids defy stereotypes as they create new, surprising definitions of home in the film by Kirsten Kelly and Anne de Mare. Can they recover from the traumas of abandonment and homelessness and build the future of their dreams?