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Hi.

My name is Gary Zidek. Welcome to The Arts Section. Tune into the radio program every Sunday morning on WDCB 90.9 & 90.7 FM or listen to it online here. I'll be showcasing a variety of arts & entertainment, as well as.highlighting some creative ideas.

New Documentary Looks Back At Tragic 1995 Heat Wave And Explores Broader Ideas

New Documentary Looks Back At Tragic 1995 Heat Wave And Explores Broader Ideas

WDCB’s Gary Zidek catches up with filmmaker Judith Helfand to talk about her new documentary COOKED: SURVIVAL BY ZIP CODE.

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“An extreme weather event linked to the climate crisis could make us really look at, maybe not deal with, but definitely have to look at the underlying disaster and emergency of the long-term impact of structural racism and acute disparity, and what happens. And oh my goodness, this isn’t just about Chicago, look what Chicago could teach us, look what Chicago could’ve taught us” - filmmaker Judith Helfand talking about how the ideas explored in COOKED: SURVIVAL BY ZIP CODE evolved.

Filmmaker Judith Helfand

Filmmaker Judith Helfand

The devastating 1995 heat wave that led to the deaths of 739 Chicago residents is the jumping off point for bigger questions and themes in the new documentary COOKED: SURVIVAL BY ZIP CODE. Directed by Judith Helfand, the Kartemquin-supported film takes a closer look at what happened in Chicago 24 years ago.

An image of the aftermath of the 1994 heat wave as the number of heat-related deaths began to grow.

An image of the aftermath of the 1994 heat wave as the number of heat-related deaths began to grow.

The New York-based Helfand was inspired by Eric Klinenberg’s 2002 book HEAT WAVE: A SOCIAL AUTOPSY OF DISASTER IN CHICAGO to start the project. Just as she was finish the trailer in 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit. Helfand expanded the scope of the project to look deeper into questions about what’s considered a “disaster” or “emergency”.

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One of the most interesting aspects of the documentary revolves around the research created by social epidemiologist Steve Whitman. He worked with data that illustrated the stark realities of Chicago’s segregation, a person’s zip code could be an accurate predictor not just of quality of life, but of life expectancy.

An image from COOKED: SURVIVAL BY ZIP CODE

An image from COOKED: SURVIVAL BY ZIP CODE

The new documentary COOKED: SURVIVAL BY ZIP CODE. is running at the Siskel Center through July 25. There will be additional programming, including mini-town-hall sessions with different guests at many of the screenings. You can find a full schedule at siskelfilmcenter.org/cooked-survival-by-zip-code

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