Director Steve James has cast his camera on different facets of America, lifting the veil onto lives that aren’t often given added nuance. His latest venture, the five-part documentary “City So Real,” looks to be his rawest and timeliest feature to date.
The documentary, airing on National Geographic, looks at the city of Chicago throughout 2019 and part of 2020 as the city deals with a contentious mayoral election, claims of corruption, and the deputy-involved shooting and death of Laquan McDonald.
The first trailer for “City So Real” will almost make you believe you’re watching tonight’s news, as images of protesters are shown. Mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot is one of many Black women running for government office in Chicago and we hear about the corruption that will eventually explode onto the national stage.
This footage comes just one day after the world, including numerous Black celebrities, voiced their disgust and outrage over lack of indictments in the killing of Louisville resident Breonna Taylor by police. Taylor’s story is one of countless police-involved deaths over the last several years that has started a movement aimed at defunding local police departments.
Taylor was killed on March 13 at age 26 after being shot by three Louisville Metro Police Department officers, only one of whom was charged — the one who was initially fired for the killing. The cops forced entry into her apartment with a no-knock search warrant and Taylor was shot eight times in the midst of gunfire between the police and Taylor’s boyfriend. The police had a no-knock warrant because they believed Taylor’s apartment was housing drugs, but no drugs were ever found.
“City So Real” will air in its entirety, five hours, over one night on October 29 on National Geographic. The presentation will be commercial free. The series will then be available to stream on October 30 via Hulu. PSAs, presented in conjunction with the organization I Am A Voter will also air during the event encouraging viewers to vote.
Getting the word out about voting and the upcoming election has been a staple of 2020. Several Emmy winners included a declaration to vote during their speeches and, most recently, actress Gabrielle Union presented a live script-reading of “Friends” with an all-Black cast as a means of getting viewers to know their voting rights.
“City So Real” airs on National Geographic October 29.