DAY 11 Podtalk: 'The First Rainbow Coalition’ at 55th Chicago International Film Festival

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CHICAGO – A little known part of Chicago history has been revived in a new documentary called “The First Rainbow Coalition.” Filmmaker Ray Santisteban tells a comprehensive story of the first people-powered activist group that rose from the coming together of races and city sectors to fight police brutality and poverty. The documentary will get a premiere on PBS “Independent Lens” series in January of 2020, and played the 55th Chicago Independent Film Festival.

Director Ray Santisteban, Henry ‘Poison’ Gaddis and Hy Thurman of ‘The First Rainbow Coalition’
Photo credit: Ray Santisteban

The Chicago International Film Festival Celebrates DAY 11 for the Chi-town movie spectacular. Post Awards Night, The BEST OF THE FEST begins. Featured highlights include A TRIBUTE TO GAEL GARCÎA BERNAL, and a screening of CHICUAROTES (directed by Bernal) and a Red Carpet/screening of the highly anticipated HARRIET, about underground railroad pioneer Harriet Tubman. Click here for a complete rundown of DAY 11 screenings and events.

The Chicago of 1969 … activists from the Black Panthers, Young Lords, and Young Patriots brought together African Americans, Latinos, and poor whites to confront police brutality and unfair housing practices in – at the time – one of America’s most segregated cities. A timely story of collective action, The First Rainbow Coalition tells this little-known chronicle of political struggle with insight and urgency using archival footage and interviews with those who lived it, including ex-Black Panther Henry “Poison” Gaddis and Young Patriots activist Hy Thurman.

’The First Rainbow Coalition’ at the 55th Chicago International Film Festival
Photo credit:

In PART ONE of a Podtalk with Patrick McDonald of, director Ray Santisteban talks about the important story of his documentary and the karma of Chicago.

In PART TWO activists Henry “Poison” Gaddis and Hy Thurman reflect upon the Black Panthers, Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood and an appreciation for parents.

In PART THREE, Hy Thurman still fights the good fight, in answering the question regarding what advice he’d give his younger self.

The 55th Chicago International Film Festival takes place October 16th to October 27th, 2019. Click here for film schedules, information and to purchase tickets. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2019 Patrick McDonald,

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