Did they die of the heat? Or did they die because of pernicious, long-term social and economic disinvestment? In July 1995 a heat wave overtook Chicago. Not until 18-wheel refrigerated trucks were parked outside the morgue to store the overflowing bodies, did the city government rename the heat wave a “disaster.” By summer’s end, long after the weather had cooled down, the city acknowledged the highly contested tally of heat victims: 739 Chicago citizens had died in a single week – most of them poor, elderly and African American. Join Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand to view her feature documentary work-in-progress about heat, poverty and the politics of crisis in an American city. Her larger community engagement campaign considers such questions as: Heat Emergency Plan or Human Emergency Plan? Green Rooftops or Green Jobs? How do we safeguard against future heat waves? Solve one problem at a time or all at once? Who decides when a crisis starts; who says when it’s over? Directed by Judith Helfand.
Discussion with filmmaker Judith Helfand follows screening.