City So Real

Director: Steve James

Institute History

  • 2020 Sundance Film Festival


As a factious mayoral election coincides with the trial of the police officer who killed Laquan McDonald, Chicago becomes a flashpoint, with the city as a tinderbox and its citizens ready to spark. The meandering camera in City So Real captures a wide swath of voices and perspectives assembled from intimate family gatherings to combustible street protests and beyond. Candidates, voters, protestors, and bystanders all weigh in, with passionate arguments and casual insights presented in equal measure, creating a broad view of a city long held as a political lightning rod.

Veteran Sundance Film Festival contributor Steve James (America to Me, 2018 Sundance Film Festival; Hoop Dreams, 1994 Sundance Film Festival) returns with a storytelling mosaic that showcases an American city that is simultaneously distinctive in its singularity and also representative of the country as a whole—a place where issues of race and segregation impact everyone, where someone who wasn’t given a chance of winning the election can become the next mayor of Chicago.

The Sundance Film Festival is proud to show the first two episodes of this docuseries.

Closed captioning is available for this film.

— D.C.

Screening Details

  • Section: Indie Episodic Programs
  • Film Type: Episodic
  • Country: U.S.A.
  • Language: English and Spanish/Punjabi
  • Run Time: 118 min.
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