“King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones”
This year’s Black Perspectives section, a sidebar dedicated to presenting Black stories from around the world, is centered around three documentaries chronicling aspects of the past, present, and potential future of the African-American experience. Harriet Marin Jones’ “King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones” takes an entertaining look at the astonishing, though mostly forgotten, real-life exploits of her grandfather, a man who rose from poverty to build a multi-million dollar empire in the 1930s and ’40s by developing and implementing the so-called Policy game of chance in the city of Chicago. Noted civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton is scheduled to appear at the screening of “Loudmouth,” Josh Alexander’s in-depth documentary chronicling his evolution from a crusader equally celebrated and berated for his brash manner and unique fashion sense into the more toned-down, though no less committed, activist of today. Erika Alexander and Whitney Dow’s “The Big Payback” looks at how in 2021 Evanston, IL became the first city in America to implement a reparations program for its Black residents, thanks to the tireless efforts of freshman Alderman Robin Rue Simmons. Acclaimed documentarian Alice Diop makes the switch to narrative features with “Saint Omer,” a drama in which a writer travels to a French town to observe the trial of a woman accused of killing her baby—she admits to the crime but claims she was under supernatural influence at the time—and finds the case inspiring memories of her own troubled upbringing.
Outlook, the long-standing sidebar dedicated to films concerned with the LGBTQ+ communities, is led this year by “My Policeman,” a British historical drama about the decades-spanning and constantly evolving relationships between a policeman (played by Harry Styles in his younger incarnation and Linus Roache as the older version), a schoolteacher (Emma Corrin and Gina McKee) and a museum curator (David Dawson and Rupert Everett). Lukas Dhont’s “Close” won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes this year for this sensitive story of about the bond between two 13-year old boys that develops beyond mere friendship and which is challenged when they return to school after an idyllic summer vacation. Elegance Bratton’s “The Inspection” tells the semi-autobiographical story of a young gay Black man who decides to enlist in the Marines as a way of giving direction to his existence. On the documentary side of things, Mercedes Kane’s “Art and Pep” tells the story of the relationship between Art Johnson and Pepe Pena, a longtime couple whose bar Sidetracks has been a focal point for the gay community since it opened in the early ’80s. The film also serves as a smart and effective recounting of the past 40 years of the LGBTQ experience in Chicago, ranging from the onset of AIDS to the in-your-face awareness campaign led by the brash activist group ACT-Up to the onset of COVID.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a film festival without a number of titles revolving around cinema itself and CIFF is no exception to that rule. For his latest exploration of cinema history, “The March on Rome,” filmmaker/historian Mark Cousins explores the story behind “A Noi!,” an infamous 1923 Italian propaganda film that supposedly chronicled a 1922 march from Naples to Rome by a group of blackshirts led by Benito Mussolini. On a slightly less fascistic note, Chris Smith’s “Sr.” offers up an affectionate look at the life and work of Robert Downey Sr., the iconoclastic filmmaker behind such outrageous and still-potent satires as “Putney Swope” and “Greaser’s Palace.”
Source by www.rogerebert.com