October 25, 2020

Screen Time: Week of October 26, 2020

From Steve James' documentary series 'City So Real.' Courtesy of Chicago Story Film, LLC

Screen Time is your curated weekly guide to excellent documentaries and nonfiction programs that you can watch at home.

City So Real, a five-part series from Steve James, Kartemquin Films and Participant, premieres in its entirety on October 29 on National Geographic; all five episodes will be available October 30 on HULU. This complex portrait of contemporary Chicago delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of a quintessentially American city, set against the backdrop of its history-making 2019 mayoral election. The series opens in 2018 as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, embroiled in accusations of a cover-up related to the police shooting of African American teenager Laquan McDonald, announces 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 addresses the city’s grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread social upheaval following the police killing of George Floyd.

Premiering October 30 on Alamo on Demand is Kim A. Snyder’s Us Kids, which chronicles the March for Our Lives movement, spurred by the February 14, 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The film follows the survivors-turned-activists as they pull off the largest youth protest in American history and set out across the country and globally to build an inclusive and unprecedented youth movement that addresses racial justice, a growing public health crisis and shocking a political system into change.

Premiering October 28 through Film Forum at Home is City Hall, the latest offering from master filmmaker Frederick Wiseman. City Hall explores the inner-workings of the Boston government. Headed by earnest, progressive Mayor Martin Walsh, a diverse, passionate network of public servants works to keep the city running while grappling with pressing issues like racial justice, affordable housing, climate action, and homelessness. 

Streaming through November 5 on Film at Lincoln Center Virtual Cinema, in collaboration with Milestone Films, are four restored documentaries from Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman: The AIDS Show, Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, Paragraph 175 and Where Are We?. For more than 30 years, Epstein and Friedman have borne powerful witness to gay life, creativity and activism—documenting lost aspects of LGBTQ+ history and chronicling unfolding events with humor, compassion and fierce urgency. 

Brett Storey’s latest film, Sanctuary, is streaming on MotherJones.com. The short documentary, produced by Chicken & Egg Pictures, addresses the issue of gun control, focusing on a cross-section of citizens in Colorado--a state legislator and domestic abuse survivor, a militia member and a county sheriff. 

Now streaming on Field of Vision, Sasha Wortzel’s This Is an Address looks at community, gentrification and erasure through the perspective of the late trans activist Sylvia Rivera, who lived along the Hudson River piers with a group of HIV-positive New Yorkers as urban renewal happened all around them.