They Don't Give a Damn: The Story of the Failed Chicago Projects

with panel discussion
Friday, February 20, 2015 - 7:00pm


Premiere screening of this vivid and revealing documentary about the demolition and 'transformation' of the notorious Chicago housing projects.  In 1999, the City of Chicago undertook The Plan for Transformation, a redevelopment agenda that purported to rehabilitate and construct a total of 25,000 new public housing units. The film provides a look at the worldview of the displaced residents: their identity formation, their perceptions of public housing, their thoughts and feelings about redevelopment, their underlying fear of neighborhood gentrification, the cultural myth that perpetuates status value, adult learning, and the implementation of Chicago’s transformative plan.

Based on the book Where Will They Go?: Transforming Public Housing by Dr. Dorothy Appiah, the film was developed by director Kenny Young, producer Phil James, cinematographer Jeffrey T. Brown and producer Karon Hamlet. Screening will be followed by a discussion with the author, the filmmakers, and Audrey Petty (University of Illinois, editor of High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing), moderated by Jacqueline Stewart (University of Chicago, Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the College).

Director Kenny Young is a writer for both stage and screen. He sold his original script Step in the Name of Love to MGM studios, and has collaborated with Hollywood legends Robert Townsend and Bill Duke. Young also serves as head writer and Artistic Director for the traveling performance troupe NOW WHAT? Young’s directorial debut, Redrum, which he also wrote, starred in, and produced through James Young Entertainment, recently aired on Showtime, Starz and The Movie Channel. C’mon Man, written and directed by Young, is currently airing on Showtime and Starz.  James Young Entertainment has recently completed his latest feature, The Night Before.

Cinematographer Jeffrey T. Brown has shot more than 150 music videos, commercials, shorts and features. His latest work includes lensing projects for Coca-Cola, Toyota, PNB Nation, and Old Spice, along with the features Envy (2005) and The Last Laugh (2011).

(Kenny Young, 2014, 105 min, digital video)

Co-presented with Arts and Public Life and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture.