The film "I Ain't Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac" will be shown Friday at Kennedy King College as part of the Englewood Film Festival.
Ambulances, police cars and blue flashing cameras are the common forms of light seen in Englewood as the sun goes down. This week, instead, there will be projector lights showing inspiring films as the second annual Englewood Film Festival kicks off Thursday.
“According to the media there’s nothing positive coming out of Englewood with the way they’re comparing it to the Iraq War,” said Mark Harris, filmmaker of Chicago-based 1555 Filmworks and director of the Englewood Film Festival.
Harris, 40, grew up in this South Side community. He said he remembers the times when Englewood was a tight-knit community and he looked up to young men in high school because of their focus in the classroom, on the field and even on the front porches as they challenged each other to games of chess.
The filmmaker said much of this changed after the drug epidemic began in the 1980s.
“That’s when you saw families start to break up. They sacrificed their community, they sacrificed their family, they sacrificed their people to make money,” said Harris.
The festival is a way of rebuilding a fragile community, Harris said. The familiar stories of murder, poverty and despair will be replaced with stories of hope, love and inspiration through the lens of film.
During the film festival’s 2011 inaugural year, three feature length films were shown over a two-day period. This year the festival has grown to four days including three short films and seven feature length films.
“The Good Life,” Harris’ most recently produced film, will be shown Saturday. He is also the producer of 11 other films.
Last year’s festival featured the award winning film “The Interrupters,” directed by Steve James. This year James’ “No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson” will be shown.
“I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac” is the opening night film, Friday. Bernie Mac, stand-up comedian and actor, was born and raised in Englewood. Mac died in 2008 from complications of pneumonia. Mac’s wife and family will be present for the film viewing.
Harris said people often suggest he have the film festival in a different area, such as Hyde Park or downtown Chicago. However, he said it is important for this festival to continue to take place in Englewood.
“What’s the purpose of having an Englewood Film Festival if you can’t do it within the community? I’m not afraid,” said Harris.
The event organizers are expecting a great turnout of Englewood residents as well as support from people outside of the neighborhood.
“I’m really excited to see the young people come out and the residents of Englewood come out and just enjoy themselves and have a nice time. It’s going to be a really secure area and I just want people to have a good time,” said Harris.
For more information about the workshops and films or to buy tickets visit englewoodfilmfest.com.