About: A longitudinal portrait of a historically Black South Side Chicago neighborhood as it faces destruction.
For generations, Englewood has been home for hundreds of Black families, part of a legacy that stretches back to the Great Migration. Notably, despite decades of inequities and racist policies that have historically limited the ability of many Black people to be homeowners, Englewood has beaten the odds, with half of its families owning their homes. David Schalliol’s film begins in 2012, when the Norfolk Southern railroad company has already begun to decimate Englewood, buying up property to expand its nearby rail yard. Working in concert with local politicians, all too eager to reframe the neighborhood as suffering from urban blight and to erase its long history, Norfolk Southern’s victory is sadly inevitable. Despite this, some local residents refuse to go quietly, demanding to be treated with respect and to be offered fair compensation for their homes. Schalliol follows their righteous, if Sisyphean, struggle – and the sad demise of Englewood – over five years in this sensitively observed profile.
About: An expansive consideration of how the movement of Black people has been policed in American history.
Based on Gretchen Sorin’s book DRIVING WHILE BLACK: AFRICAN AMERICAN TRAVEL AND THE ROAD TO CIVIL RIGHTS, this screen version reveals the pivotal role transportation and movement have played in African American life in the 20th century. While mainstream (white) audiences were introduced to the treacherous aspects of road travel for Black individuals via Hollywood’s GREEN BOOK, Sorin and her co-director Ric Burns delve more deeply, and broadly, into the concept of the transformative possibilities – and limits – of travel by African Americans in the US, from slavery through Jim Crow, the Great Migration through the Civil Rights era and into the present day. They cover a wide swath of history, perhaps too wide – an exploration of the restrictions on the Black body for any of these periods could easily fill its own feature length treatment – but it’s an informative and insightful meditation that remains all too relevant to this day.