Block by Block: Short Films About Chicago: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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Block by Block: Short Films About Chicago

Four Black kids joyfully pose for a photo on a quiet street with parked cars
Image credit: "CPS Closings" courtesy of the artist
7 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Fri April 29, 2022
7 PM


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public



(Various artists, 2017-2021, total ~76 min)
With filmmakers Domietta Torlasco, Jazmine., and Kristin Reeves in conversation with Joyy Norris (MFA in Documentary Media, 2018)


This program brings together five recent short films that celebrate Black life in Chicago while interrogating the historic and contemporary effects of segregation, redlining, and disinvestment in the city. Centering images of joy amidst architectures of adversity, these films also foreground the voice, using interviews, testimony, lyrics, and intimate conversations to imagine filmmaking as a form of community dialogue.

Following the screening, the Block will welcome filmmakers Domietta Torlasco, Jazmine., and Kristin Reeves for a discussion of their films and the communities they represent, moderated by Joyy Norris (MFA in Documentary Media, 2018).

About the films:

Garfield Park, USA

(Domietta Torlasco, 2021, 32 min, digital)

Botany, urban planning, children’s play—how do these practices intersect in the history of violence and racial segregation that has shaped a major American city? What asymmetrical mappings of space do they reveal? What signs of resistance do they offer? In Garfield Park, USA, filmed on the Chicago West Side, Domietta Torlasco reframes narratives of crime and criminality by looking at the city as an overlay of borderlines and patterns of exploitation, the consequence of measures that reach back to the origins of racial capitalism. In keeping with the style of the film essay, she asks questions in order to weave relations—between voices, histories, and visions—and counter the drive to chart and divide both territories and living beings. (Domietta Torlasco)

Some Thingz Never Change: Monologues From A Stoop In Bronzeville

(Jazmine., 2019, 12 min, digital)

Some Thingz Never Change: Monologues from a Stoop in Bronzeville is an ongoing performance ethnography project, which explores collective memory, post-migration history, and contemporary urban experiences through an intergenerational lens. Inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks's first published poetry collection, "A Street In Bronzeville," language and intimate memories of individuals navigating and residing within a historically black and disfranchised urban space are viscerally recounted. Using interviews transcribed verbatim, oral renditions performed kinda not verbatim, and the memories and labor of past and present residents of 49th and Washington Park Court, a block within Bronzeville, this piece attempts to draw on questions revolving around change, language duality, and safety. (Jazmine.)

Dreams Under Confinement

(Christopher Harris, 2020, 3 min, digital)

“Frenzied voices on the Chicago Police Department’s scanner call for squad cars and reprisals during the 2020 uprising in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, as Google Earth tracks the action through simulated aerial views of urban spaces and the vast Cook County Department of Corrections, the country’s third-largest jail system. In Christopher Harris’s Dreams Under Confinement, the prison and the street merge into a shared carceral landscape.” (New York Film Festival)

CPS Closings + Delays

(Kristin Reeves, 2017, 7 min, 16mm Film/HD Video)

The Chicago Board of Education made history in 2013 by approving the closure of 50 schools, the largest public school closing to date in the United States. I documented all 50 schools on a 100’ roll of 16mm film while my DSLR caught vignettes of their communities. (Kristin Reeves)

Hail Mary

(Sasha Phyars-Burgess, 2021, 22 mins, digital)

A photographic and video lament on race, class, and space in one of Chicago’s westernmost neighborhoods – Austin. Beginning in the late 1960s, Austin experienced dramatic demographic changes due to white flight, redlining, and economic disinvestment. Both an expression of what is on the surface and what emerges when one takes a moment to look deeply, this project aims to capture the ongoing effects of these changes in the everyday lives of Austin residents. Through a mixture of straight photographs, in-camera aberrations, developmental mistakes, and recorded footage, the work aims to center the subjectivity of these residents by garnering awareness of a community whose narrative has been lost and evacuated of nuance.

This screening is supported by the Comparative Literary Studies Program and the Department of French and Italian at Northwestern.

Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at