City of Hope

Director: John Sayles
Screenwriters: John Sayles

Institute History


John Sayles’s richly layered City of Hope interweaves separate stories into a gritty portrait of the spiderweb of political deal making and duplicity that controls the economic fortunes of an American city. The mayor is eager to erect condominiums that will displace low-income families in apartments owned by builder Joe Rinaldi. Joe’s son, Nick, struggles to resolve conflicted feelings about his father and become his own person. Wynn, the only black man on the city council, tries to fight for his constituents but faces opposition from black leaders who see him as colluding with the establishment. And sleazy opportunist Carl, played by Sayles, exploits every angle for his own gain.

These vividly etched characters and others connect and collide as Sayles’s camera prowls the dark city streets. Amid the prophetic rantings of David Strathairn’s street person—“Why settle for less when you can have it all?”—are redeeming moments of compassion and grace that make this a true “city of hope.”

City of Hope made its world premiere at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival. Sony Pictures Entertainment joined Sundance Institute and the UCLA Film & Television Archive to create new preservation elements for the film and digitally remaster a DCP for this screening.

— Barbra Bannon

Screening Details

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