Podtalk: Judith Helfand on 'Cooked: Survival by Zip Code,' in Chicago Thru July 25, 2019

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CHICAGO – In the Summer of 1995, there was extreme heat in the City of Chicago for seven days, with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees with high humidity. It hit the area like a tsunami, and left power outages and and an exposure of inadequate emergency responses in its wake. The death toll from the heat, when all the analysis was done, soared to 739 people. Director Judith Helfand chronicles that event, and events like it, in her new film, “Cooked: Survival by Zip Code.”

Judith Helfand (left) Gets a Preparedness Lesson in ‘Cooked: Survival by Zip Code’
Photo credit: Kartemquin Films

The film is based on Eric Klinenberg’s 2002 book, “Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago,” and both the book and the film “Cooked” points toward the inordinate amount of deaths associated with the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago. Director Helfand takes its further, to show how America spends so much money on preparing for disaster, while not taking care of the man made disaster – economic disparity rooted in systemic racism – that is with us everyday.

The film is in the midst a two week run at the Gene Siskel Film Center, with many of the screenings followed by town hall style discussions related to the context of the film. Director Judith Helfand will appear on behalf of the film on July 18th-21st, the 23rd and the 25th. For more information, including a schedule of discussion topics, click here.

Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com asked Judith Helfand a couple questions regarding her unique film, and she answers them in the following Podtalk.

Q: Even though your examination in this film comes up with a simple and viable thesis – that we need to concern ourselves as a society with economic disparity and systemic racism – at what point in the research/production for the film did it become a eureka moment?

Q: If you could create a utopia-type circumstance, based on what you talk about in your film, how would we change to make this world better for the potential victims of disasters yet to come?

“Cooked: Survival by Zip” continues its run in Chicago through July 25th, 2019, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, located on 164 North State Street, Chicago. Click here for general information on programming and show times.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2019 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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