Cooked: Survival by Zip Code returns to Gene Siskel Film Center Sept 13 for encore run

Back by popular demand after selling out multiple screenings in its first run in July, COOKED: Survival by Zip Code returns to the Gene Siskel Film Center this Friday, September 13 for a week-long encore theatrical run. A searing documentary on the politics of “disaster,” COOKED blends investigative reporting about the deadly 1995 Chicago heat wave - which led to the deaths of 739 people, mostly Black and in the poorest neighborhoods of the city - with a potent argument that the best preparation for a disaster may start with actually redefining the terms “disaster,” “preparedness,” and “resilience.” 

On COOKED’s initial run, critics raved:

"For those who don't know the story: You need to see this movie."
– Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

"As Helfand asks, “What if with a slight torque of the system and a reframe of the terms ‘disaster,’ ‘preparedness’ and ‘resilience,’ we could invest in the most vulnerable communities now—instead of waiting for the next ‘natural disaster’?” Urgent questions, asked crisply and well."
– Ray Pride, New City

"Makes a persuasive argument that it’s time to broaden the definition of disaster— to include the vast and ongoing economic and community inequities."
– Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune

Prominent public officials participating in the film’s first run included Ranjani Prabhakar (Deputy Policy Director - Climate Change, City of Chicago), Allison Arwady (Acting Commissioner Chicago Department of Public Health), Dr. Terry Mason (Chief Operating Officer, Cook County Department of Public Health), and Alma Anaya (CookCounty Commissioner of the 7th District), in addition to leaders in the environmental justice, public health and urban agriculture movements.

During the run, the filmmakers collected over 500 signed postcards addressed to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, urging her and her cabinet to declare racism a public health crisis. Audience members from 52 of Chicago's nearly 60 residential zip codes joined in this immediate call-to-action. On the second to last day of screenings, Cook County passed a resolution declaring racism and racial inequality a public health crisis.

The film is directed and produced by Peabody Award-winning director Judith Helfand (Blue Vinyl, A Healthy Baby Girl, Everything’s Cool) and produced by Fenell Doremus (co-producer of Academy Award-nominated Abacus: Small Enough to Jail). The film is adapted from Eric Klinenberg’s ground-breaking book ‘HEAT WAVE: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago.’

In Helfand’s signature serious-yet-quirky connect-the-dots style, COOKED: Survival by Zip Code takes audiences into the deadly 1995 Chicago heat disaster, ties it back to the underlying manmade disaster of systemic structural racism and then goes deep into one of our nation’s biggest growth industries: Disaster Preparedness. Along the way she forges inextricable links between extreme weather, extreme wealth disparity and the politics of “disaster.”

Watch the film’s official trailer HERE.

The film had its world premiere at DOC NYC in 2018 and has since embarked on an award-winning festival run, recently winning the Jury Award for Best Feature Film at the 2019 EarthxFilm Festival and the People’s Choice Award at the 2019 Environmental Film Festival at Yale.

The film is slated for a broadcast premiere on the PBS strand Independent Lens in their upcoming 2020 season, and is about to launch a city-by-city engagement campaign.