2008 Black Earth Film Festival


by Mike Kroll


This year's Black Earth Film Festival takes place over two weekends beginning at 7pm this Saturday in a brand new venue for the festival, the Sandburg Mall Cinema. “Opening Night Local Showcase” presents three local films including the world premier of Open Tonight by Galesburg filmmaker William Franckey who looks at Galesburg history from as a celluloid scrapbook. Also showing will be a documentary on the history and unfortunate closing of a century old local business, Western Stoneware and a short about a girl and her fish by Tom Engebretson.

On Thursday, September 18th we return to the Sandburg Mall Cinema again at 7pm for “An Evening Underground” featuring six very unusual shorts and two longer films of almost an hour each. From animation to an animated music video to a documentary on Japanese tattooing plus two dramas that just might make you question your own sense of moral right or wrong. All of these films are a bit avant guard and some content may offend the sensibilities of some but you are guaranteed to be thoughtfully engaged and challenged as you watch films you will be talking about on Friday.

On Friday, September 19th the festival moves to the lawn beside Knox College's Old Main for the “All Illinois” session. Four very different films by Illinois filmmakers including a documentary on the scores of men who become Abe Lincoln for fun and profit. This is an interesting and intriguing look at a topic you never realized you were interested shown at the last remaining site of those famous Lincoln-Douglas debates and at least one Lincoln will be making an appearance that night. Another film documents a little-know chapter in Martin Luther King's many faceted life as he brought his crusade for civil rights and social justice to the streets of Chicago in 1966. Two short dramas round out the evening with studies of truly Midwestern characters facing life's challenges.

The festival concludes on Saturday, September 20th at the Carl Sandburg State Historic Site with a daytime session in the barn and an evening unique films under the stars. The day session begins at 10am with a film about American families visiting pre-Olympic China. There's also an uplifting film about the positive effects of a marching band on inner city youth and a documentary about a southern city struggling to come to grips with its racist past. Add in the story of a town with a seemingly perpetual fire beneath, a drama about rural India and a documentary about water and you have the most eclectic session of this year's festival.

In a big political year like 2008 no festival could be complete without a political film or two and the evening's featured film will introduce you to a character like none other in your experience-- but this guy is for real. The evening session begins around 7pm and includes four films that not only span America but take you to Africa as well. Your heart and your intellect will be touched by three very different and compelling documentaries any you will never again dismiss your family as the weirdest one you know once you are introduced to Kraftland and those who populate it.

The Galesburg Civic Arts Center sponsors this annual festival of independent films and invites everyone to experience the opportunity to be among the first to view a premier film. A festival pass for all five sessions costs only $25 and individual evening sessions are just $10 each. The daytime bargain session on the second Saturday is just $5. Discounts are also available for students and seniors. The Black Earth Film Festival is fertile soil for your imagination.