Highlighting Chicago’s history, the festival will occur in Bronzeville and Hyde Park, with pop-up events happening throughout the city during the year with partners including Ava DuVernay’s Array, EventNoire, BMOA of Chicago, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago and Silver Room. 

The three-day festival will kick off on August 18th with a 9am conversation between Louis Carr, the President of Media Sales at BET, and moderator Rufus Sims at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship, located at 1452 E. 53rd St. An 11am lunch will be followed by panels with speakers including Robert Townsend, Louis Carr, Jackie Taylor, George Daniels, Dana Gills (Monkeypaw Productions), Dave Jeff (Phli), Diallo Riddle (South Side), Brenda Gilbert (BRON Studios), Korporate and more.

On August 19th, the festival will feature a conversation between legendary filmmaker and producer, Robert Townsend, hosted by radio personality Leon Rogers. The final day of the festival on August 20th will feature “The Making of the 5 Heartbeats” with Robert Townsend & Rooftop Cinema x The TRiiBE at Emily Hotel, located at 311 N. Morgan Street. 

After the Creative Cypher acquisition of The Chicago South Side Film Festival, Cypher has created a platform for other festivals to plug into as well. XL Festival & Creative Cypher Founder Troy Pryor is an advisor for the Chicago Alliance of Film Festivals, Co-Chair of Black Harvest Film Festival, and Chicago International Film Festival/Black Perspectives team member.

“After working for years as a talent, starting with background work on a Tyler Perry project, I knew my path would lead towards building infrastructure,” said Pryor. “The festival was a natural progression in a much larger ecosystem that we’ve established and provides creatives a level of access, previously not seen in Chicago. This is now even more valuable due to the state of our creative industry. In addition to Chicago having a scaling Black-owned festival, we are providing a pathway for other festivals and programs to optimize their own DEI efforts. This will help them attract greater resources to scale as well.”

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