City So Real
Ric Speaks with Oscar-Nominated Documentarian Steve James About
His Critically Acclaimed Docu-Series on National Geographic. The One-Night, Five-Hour, Commercial-Free event, airs October 29th at 7pm ET/PT on National Geographic, Available Next Day on Hulu.
City So Real was an official Indie Episodic selection at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival where it had its world premiere. In the five-part documentary series City So Real, documentarian Steve James (“America to Me,” “Hoop Dreams”) delivers a fascinating and complex portrait of Chicago, America’s third-largest metropolis and his longtime hometown. The series begins in the haze of mid-summer 2018 as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, embroiled in accusations of a cover-up related to the police shooting of an African American teenager, Laquan McDonald, shocks the city by announcing he won’t seek reelection. An unprecedented 21 candidates emerge in a diverse and crowded field as they engage in a no-holds-barred battle for a chance to shape the city’s uncertain future.
The final episode of the series picks up a year after the mayoral election in 2020, as the city simultaneously grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread social upheaval following the death of George Floyd. An already fractured city is further divided by the economic, political and social fallout, which plays out on the city streets as police clash with protesters, bringing rise to a generational moment that promises to change the city forever. In candid interviews with residents throughout the city, the series captures Chicago’s indomitable spirit as well as its seemingly insurmountable challenges. City So Real is a gritty and loving depiction of a quintessentially American city that is at once fiercely unique and a microcosm of the nation ⎯ and our world ⎯ as a whole.
Director, producer, cinematographer and editor Steve James is a two-time Academy Award nominee who has earned four Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award nominations, winning for 1994’s Hoop Dreams. That film marked his first Oscar nomination (Best Film Editing), as well as an Independent Spirit Award win, and James received his second Oscar nod (Best Documentary Feature) for 2016’s Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. The latter film was named one of the National Board of Review’s “Top 5 Documentaries of the Year” and won Best Political Documentary at the Critics’ Choice Awards. James’ other notable credits include Stevie, an Independent Spirit Award nominee and Sundance prize winner; The Interrupters, which won an Emmy, Independent Spirit Award and the duPont-Columbia Journalism Award; and the Roger Ebert biography Life Itself, named best documentary by the National Board of Review and the Producers Guild of America (PGA), as well as winning an Emmy winner for Best Editing. The director’s Starz docuseries America to Me premiered at Sundance and was one of the most acclaimed TV shows of 2018.www.citysoreal.film