City of Hope

Director: John Sayles
Screenwriters: John Sayles

Institute History


City of Hope is an epic work, original, dark, deeply disturbing; it is easily Sayles's most ambitious film. His subject is America in 1990 as reflected during long nights in a small New Jersey city, where the construction of a housing project, held hostage to graft. The focus is the dynamic web of individuals who constitute the system of collusion and compromise that makes cities run, a web which finally traps, elegantly and dramatically, those who have spun it. Sayles's vision of urban America is chilling, not all dissimilar from Brecht’s in Mahagomy and consistent with his own social perspective in Eight Men Out and Matewan. With a sweeping camera choreographed to the public rhythms of corridor politics. Building-site conspiracies, street encounters, and a parkland mugging, Sayles describes the civic dance where partners change more often according to shifts in power than because of emotional attachment.

Sayles builds a big, vibrant narrative in which class, race gender, sexual orientation, and various expressions of love inter twine, intersect, and interrelate in a natural and complex way. Nothing happens without there being an immediate reaction. and it is this description of an untidy urban machine. as romantic as it is accurate, that makes City of Hope such an unusually heady experience. That an American filmmaker, without studio financing but with much ingenuity, willpower and a remarkable cast, can still realize such a provocative work of intertwined layers and major dimension is the most positive signal that the independent cinema in this country remains alive and fearless.

Wednesday, January 23 7:00 p.rn.
Egyptian Theatre

Thursday, January 24 10:00 a.rn.
Prospector Square Theatre


— Laurence Kardish

Screening Details

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