Podtalk: Kevin Shaw on HIs Documentary ‘Let the Little Light Shine’ at Gene Siskel Film Center

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CHICAGO – The City of Chicago, like a number of American cities, has gone through incredible transformations in the last 25 years. Whole neighborhoods left for dead during the white flight of the 1950s-70s have been gentrified and re-settled with luxury housing … often to the detriment of those who remained there throughout many difficult years. One such case was the National Teachers Academy (NTA) a high performing grade school mostly attended by the South Loop neighborhood children of color. How the city wanted to repurpose it is chronicled in the documentary “Let the Little Light Shine” by filmmaker Kevin Shaw.

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Rating: 4.0/5.0

The South Loop neighborhood, in the last 15 years or so, has had a proliferation of wealthier “settlers” in its environs – due to its close access to downtown – and the new neighbors have petitioned for a high school. The city wanted to close the relatively new infrastructure of NTA to accommodate this request, and the forces of wealth were put behind the move. Enter the parents and supporters of NTA, whose diligence and protest pushed back on governmental/societal manifest destiny, and forged a path to rejecting the re-do.

‘Let the Little Light Shine,’ Directed by Kevin Shaw
Photo credit: PBS

In a step by step overview of the conflict, Kevin Shaw “shines a light” on a highly regarded grade school student body of color and their families versus the well-heeled agents of change. His story vision is a combination of student/parental courage and the law that seeks justice for the often overlooked population of color, and the passion of the school that puts it on the path to salvation.

Kevin Shaw is a veteran of the production crew (editor, cinematographer, camera), as well as a producer and director. Among his credits is the highly regarded “America to Me” TV documentary, which included the legendary documentarian Steve James (“Hoop Dreams), who served as an Executive Producer on “Let the Little Light Shine.” The film had its theatrical debut on August 12th, 2022, at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center, and will run there through August 18th (click here for details). It has a full slate of screenings in New York City and California in August and September (click here).

In a Podtalk with Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com, Kevin Shaw of “Let the Little Light Shine” talks of origins, social justice and Steve James …

Trailer for “Let the Little Light Shine” …

”Let the Little Light Shine” is currently screening at the Gene Siskel Film Center – 164 North State Street, Chicago – through August 18th, 2022. Directed by Kevin Shaw. Not Rated.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2022 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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