As a factious mayoral election coincides with the trial of the police officer who killed Laquan McDonald, Chicago becomes a flashpoint, with the city as a tinderbox and its citizens ready to spark. The meandering camera in City So Real captures a wide swath of voices and perspectives assembled from intimate family gatherings to combustible street protests and beyond. Candidates, voters, protestors, and bystanders all weigh in, with passionate arguments and casual insights presented in equal measure, creating a broad view of a city long held as a political lightning rod.

Veteran Sundance Film Festival contributor Steve James (America to Me, 2018 Sundance Film Festival; Hoop Dreams, 1994 Sundance Film Festival) returns with a storytelling mosaic that showcases an American city that is simultaneously distinctive in its singularity and also representative of the country as a whole—a place where issues of race and segregation impact everyone, where someone who wasn’t given a chance of winning the election can become the next mayor of Chicago.

The Sundance Film Festival is proud to show the first two episodes of this docuseries.

Closed captioning is available for this film.

YEAR 2020

CATEGORY Indie Episodic


RUN TIME 118 min

LANGUAGE English and Spanish/Punjabi

SUBTITLES Yes with English subtitles

COMPANY Participant, Kartemquin Films

WEBSITE http://www.participant.com

EMAIL lkim@participant.com

PHONE (310) 623-4971


Executive Producers
Original Music
Post-Production Supervisor
Assistant Editors
Music Supervisor

Artist Bio

Steve James

Steve James's work includes Hoop Dreams; Sundance Film Festival award winner Stevie; The Interrupters, which won an Emmy, a Film Independent Spirit Award, and an Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award; Emmy winner Life Itself, named best documentary by the National Board of Review; and Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, which earned James a second Academy Award nomination. His docuseries, America to Me, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was one of 2018's most acclaimed shows.