Director: Judith Helfand


In her signature serious-yet-quirky style (think Blue Vinyl), Peabody award winning filmmaker Judith Helfand boldly takes audiences from the 1995 Chicago heat disaster - when 739 Chicagoans died in one week - into the present, forging an inextricable link between extreme weather, extreme poverty and survival by zip code. With equal parts naivete and chutzpah, Helfand goes from questioning our nation’s official definition of disaster deep into America’s burgeoning Disaster Preparedness infrastructure, a veritable growth industry created post-9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. She attends a four-day-seven-state National Level Exercise focused preparing for an earthquake slated to one day devastate the Midwest. Amazed by the “war room” precision, extraordinary expenditure of resources, and worst-case-scenario planning she asks: Can we repurpose this disaster preparedness infrastructure to combat the slow-motion disasters (extreme poverty, health disparity and institutionalized racism) that we can count on becoming more deadly each year? Cooked was inspired by Eric Klinenberg’s acclaimed book Heat Wave; A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago.

Screening Details


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]