Chitown Election Film Festival.

March 25, 2023 7:08 AM
March 26, 2023 10:11 PM
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As a 501c3, HotHouse is not allowed to make any endorsements regarding specific candidates running for office. However, as a business located in the city of Chicago, we have witnessed over the years the impact the policies of “neoliberalism” have had on the environment in which we work and live. These policies include how public money is distributed, how safety in our neighborhoods is often-times considered only as a “law and order” issue driven by the entrenched interests of the F.O.P., how the development of housing has been a for-profit speculative instrument benefitting the few, how the care of the environment has been an afterthought, how the lack of devotion to public transit has created a degraded system, and how the least among us are shoddily cared for.

As a “progressive” organization we value an equitable distribution of resources with corporations paying their fair share of taxes. We do not subscribe to the notion that businesses will flee Illinois or the city if they have to pony up their portion of the pot. We believe in hyper-local economic development with schools and public buildings being used to promote literacy, job training, child care, recreational and other productive activities. We think that crime and rampant despair are related to cynical notions long incubated in systemic racism. We believe in the expansion, not restriction of free public services, and think an equitably budgeted government can provide better resources for all.

We see a contrast in what lies ahead on April 4.

Our marathon program intends to provide a look at some of the aspirations “progressive activists” have advanced in the modern era.

We look at the formation of the First Rainbow Coalition and American Revolution 2 from the late 1960’s that led to the ultimate first defeat of the machine with the stunning election of Harold Washington in 1983.  During that time, the first Black National Convention (Nationtime) was held in Gary, Indiana in 1972 and in that movie, we enjoy a chestnut of HotHouse’s interest – how arts and culture are front and center in “the movement”. We look at Steve James’ recent doc – two episodes from City So Real, that looks the post-Rahm election and the last Paul Vallas campaign.

We are joined in the program by three veterans from the frontlines of Chicago organizing. Rudy Lozano Jr. has carried the progressive banner on the Southwest side of the city for decades. Helen Shiller, a council member for more than 26 years held the 46th ward as a “people first” enclave on the lakefront in the face of massive opposition from developers, and Salim Mukwakkil has been the voice of talk radio on WVON and a long time editor at In These Times and gives us the long view of history. Keith Lewis is our host.

Together they will anchor our series of films with these questions.

  • From your perspective, what are the key issues facing Chicago in this election ?
  • What significant gains have we made in building a rainbow coalition ? What are the setbacks ? Successes ? What can we do to build it ?
  • What has changed in the 40 + years since HW and 50 years since the 1972 Gary Convention ?




Keith Lewis is Chairman of the Board of Director of HotHouse

As Senior Director of Community Collaboration Lewis is responsible for developing and managing a comprehensive program that includes the creation of two neighborhood centers on the South and Westside of Chicago, facilitating connections that strengthen and build community partnerships as well as create and implement specialized pathway and accessibility initiatives for underrepresented and marginalized groups.



Rudy Lozano Jr. is a Vice President in Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and leads The Fellowship Initiative in Chicago, a program that equips young men of color from low-income, underserved communities with the skills, experiences, and resources needed to complete high school prepared to excel in colleges and careers. Rudy spent most of his career working in the not-for-profit sector and alternative high schools advocating for positive youth development and community advancement. He developed his passion for youth organizing and advocacy growing up in an environment and home that was civically engaged in local and international social justice issues. Rudy has drawn upon personal experiences, growing up in a single-family home, to better serve youth and families of color from working class communities.
Rudy has worked in many capacities with several community-based organizations, including Instituto del Progreso, Enlace Chicago and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. He is highly proficient at supporting adolescent development, providing academic and career counseling, identifying and addressing trauma, and knowledgeable about education policy. Rudy’s passion for change led him to run for the Illinois State Legislature in 2010 and 2012. While unsuccessful in obtaining a seat in the legislature, he was able to ignite a movement within Chicago’s southwest side that led to more non-traditional candidates of color running for office and challenging the status quo. He continues to support civic engagement in underserved communities, including expanding opportunities for low-income candidates of color, through his volunteer activities.
Rudy’s vision for a better world stems from his parents’ exposing him to political activities and
involvement at an early age. This exposure has led Rudy to attending conferences around the world, organizing in his neighborhood, sitting on local school councils, participating in numerous leadership opportunities and developing an understanding that the world is inter-connected and that all people deserve fundamental human rights and dignity.
Rudy is alum of Chicago Public Allies and Leadership Greater Chicago graduate class of 2011. He obtained his BA in Community and Youth Development from Northeastern Illinois University and his M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from University of Illinois at Chicago. Rudy is a proud son, brother, husband and father to two amazing girls.


Journalist and political commentator Salim Muwakkil was born on January 20, 1947, in New York City. Given the birth name of Alonzo Canady, Jr., he was the oldest of four children born to Alonzo Canady and Bertha Merriman. He attended Linden High School in Linden, New Jersey, graduating in 1964. Upon graduation, he enrolled in the U.S. Air Force, serving five years as an administration specialist.

After the completion of his Air Force service in 1969, Muwakkil returned to New Jersey and enrolled at Rutgers University, where he earned a B.A. in political science in 1973. Shortly before graduating, he started working as a news writer for the Associated Press’ bureau in Newark. The following year he became the copy editor for Muhammad Speaks-Bilalian News , the largest black-owned publication in the country. During his time there, which lasted until July 1977, he also became the managing editor of the newspaper, and in 1975 officially changed his name.

By 1980, Muwakkil was living in Chicago, working as a writer and editor for the U.S. Department of Housing and Development. He was also serving as a freelance writer, contributing to various publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post. In 1984, he became the senior editor of In These Times. Muwakkil later became a contributing columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. He has also served as host of the “Salim Muwakkil Show” on WVON-AM since 2007.

Muwakkil is the author of Harold!, a book chronicling Harold Washington’s historic tenure as mayor of Chicago. He has also contributed to five other books and has been a frequent guest on Chicago Tonight, a public affairs program, and on Beyond the Beltway, a nationally syndicated political radio program. He has provided political commentary for various other radio and television shows, served as an adjunct professor at the Art Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. Muwakkil is married and the father of two children. He resides in Chicago.


Helen Shiller is a former Alderman of the 46th ward, serving in the Chicago City Council for six four-year terms, from 1987 to 2011. Shiller is also a published author, having written a 500-page book on her politics and activism in Chicago from 1971 to 2011 (Daring to Struggle, Daring to Win). Shiller was elected to the City Council on her third attempt, as Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black Mayor, was re-elected to his second term, and her election as alderman helped close the Council Wars era in Chicago government. Shiller has been described as “a reformer unafraid to take on the boys in power.” Among her most significant impacts on Chicago were her advocacy for diverse, inclusive, affordable housing and helping craft Chicago’s response to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Her commitment to fostering community development without displacement often brought Shiller into contention with some constituencies, real estate developers, and editorial boards. Shiller’s oral history was collected by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Uptown resident Studs Terkel in his 2003 book, Hope Dies Last. As she details in her own book, among her policy victories as a City Council member was: getting human rights legislation passed, having Chicago implement anti-apartheid legislation, creating a City Council Subcommittee on Domestic Violence, and building a unique mix-used development.


NATIONTIME 1972 1h 20m

Nationtime is a report on the National Black Political Convention held in Gary, Indiana, in 1972, a historic event that gathered black voices from across the political spectrum, among them Jesse Jackson, Dick Gregory, Coretta Scott King, Dr. Betty Shabazz, Richard Hatcher, Amiri Baraka, Charles Diggs, Isaac Hayes, Richard Roundtree and H. Carl McCall. Narrated by Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, the film was considered too militant for television broadcast at the time and has since circulated only in an edited 58-minute version. This new 4K restoration from IndieCollect, with funding from Jane Fonda and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, returns the film to its original 80-minute length and visual quality.

STREAMING LIVE MARCH 26 at 7pm watch on our website

William Greaves was born on 8 October 1926 in New York. From 1953-2005, Greaves was the producer, writer, director, cinematographer and/or editor of seventy-nine films. Spanning documentary, narrative, and hybrid forms, the films tell a vast, complex story about the major figures engaged in the fight for social justice, equal opportunity, and basic respect. From the fierce battles for civil rights (Nationtime and Black Power in America: Myth or Reality?) to the remarkable achievements of inspiring leaders (Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice and Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey) and onward to the two uncategorizable, astonishing Symbiopsychotaxiplasm films, William Greaves’s filmography constitutes a unique and powerful portrait of the United States and its checkered history. Greaves garnered many accolades for his work, including four Emmy nominations.

Read more about Greaves


The Media Burn Archive was founded in 2003 by Tom Weinberg after a 40-year-long career producing documentaries and being a major advocate for independent producers. In 1978, he created the show Image Union, which brought the work of independent film and videomakers to a Chicago television audience for the first time. His programs have won four Emmy awards, a Silver Circle lifetime achievement award from the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and he shared in a duPont-Columbia University journalism award as a member of TVTV.

“Media Burn” was the name of a remarkable 1975 countercultural event by San Francisco-based art and architecture group, Ant Farm. Curtis Schreier, Chip Lord, Doug Michels, and Uncle Buddy took responsibility for a modified 1959 Cadillac Biarritz convertible smashing through a wall of burning television sets in the Cow Palace parking lot. Doug Hall appeared as President Kennedy.

This site was, in no small way, inspired by that classic Ant Farm event and video. The first use of the phrase “Media Burn” was in a monograph and book proposal by Tom Weinberg in 1969. It is still in process.

One of our heroes is Studs Terkel, whose ability to portray the stories of “ordinary” people is our model. We are lucky to have several hundred videos featuring Studs, donated from his personal collection.

Media Burn is a project of the Fund for Innovative TV. FITV is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that was founded in 1990 with a mission to produce and distribute independent documentary video and television that exposes audiences to diverse points of view. FITV has produced many award-winning television series, including THE 90’s, Chicago Slices, and Weekend TV, and dozens of documentaries.

The creation of this site, including database, archiving, digitizing, website design and grunt work has been a labor of love, nurtured by Tom Weinberg, Sara Chapman, Carolyn Faber, Eric Kramer, our board of directors, hundreds of interns, and the contributions, mostly voluntary, from dozens more.


In 1969, the Chicago Black Panther Party, notably led by the charismatic Fred Hampton, began to form alliances across lines of race and ethnicity with other community-based movements in the city, including the Latinx group the Young Lords Organization and the working-class young southern whites of the Young Patriots. Finding common ground, these disparate groups banded together in one of the most segregated cities in postwar America to collectively confront issues such as police brutality and substandard housing, calling themselves the Rainbow Coalition. The First Rainbow Coalition tells the movement’s little-known story through rare archival footage and interviews with former coalition members in the present-day.

While the coalition eventually collapsed under duress from constant harassment by local and federal law enforcement, including the murder of Fred Hampton, it had a long term impact, breaking down barriers between communities, and creating a model for future activists and diverse politicians across America.

Ray Santisteban has worked for the past 26 years as a documentary filmmaker, teacher, and film curator.  His work consistently gravitates toward political subjects and artist profiles, addressing the themes of justice, memory, and political transformation.  A graduate of NYU’s Film and TV production program, he has explored a variety of subjects including New York Black Panther leader Dhoruba Bin Wahad (Passin’ It On, co-producer), the roots of Puerto Rican poetry (Nuyorican Poets Cafe, 1994, director, producer, editor), and Chicano poetry (Voices from Texas, director/producer). He was senior producer of Visiones: Latino Art and Culture in the U.S. a three hour PBS series nationally broadcast in 2004.  His awards garnered include a 1992 Student Academy Award, a New York Foundation for the Arts Media Fellowship, 1993, a 1996 “Ideas In Action” Award from the National Tele-Media Alliance, a 1996 “Faculty of the Year” Award from the Chicano Studies Program, UW Madison, a 2005 Rockefeller Film and Video Fellowship, and a 2008 and 2016 San Antonio Artists Foundation Filmmaker Award, and a 2016 Tobin Award for Artistic Excellence. He is based in San Antonio, Texas.

CLICK TO WATCH MARCH 25 and March 26


In 2017, CFA received a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to photochemically preserve American Revolution 2 (1969), and the project was completed in 2018. Helmed by filmmakers Howard Alk and Mike Gray, and produced under the auspices of the Film Group, the film aims to convey a deeper understanding of race relations in light of the 1968 student demonstrations that occurred at the Democratic Convention in Chicago.

The source material for the preservation project was a 35mm positive black and white print with dual bilateral variable optical sound, in fairly good condition with minimal visible damage. Unfortunately, most of the original elements were lost years ago. Therefore, the best preservation plan for American Revolution 2 was to produce a new duplicate negative, a 35mm negative optical soundtrack, and a 35mm composite sound black and white answer print. The hotochemical preservation was carried out by our friends at Colorlab.

The Film Group was a loosely knit collective of commercial and documentary filmmakers (including Mike Gray, Chuck Olin, and William Cottle) based in Chicago during the latter half of the 1960s. They experimented with the new cinema verité style of documentary filmmaking, and cleverly applied it to the commercials and sponsored films they produced for their clients.  But the climate of social unrest that sprang from the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement contributed to a growing dissonance between their commercial and documentary work. As a result, they focused their energies on documenting the tremendous wave of socio-cultural change enveloping the country, and abandoned their commercial work.

American Revolution 2 reveals the filmmakers’ attempts to gain a deeper understanding of race relations, by following Black Panther member Bobby Lee in his efforts to find common cause with the poor Appalachian white community living in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood who had branded themselves the Young Patriots. The seemingly disparate groups find that they share similar economic and political objectives, and are able to engage in a discourse that overcomes racial differences.

American Revolution 2 was released in 1969 but faced very limited distribution. Despite not being widely seen until relatively recently, the film has slowly gained recognition for the eloquence and energy with which it captures this vital moment in contemporary American history.

“American Revolution 2,” provided by The Chicago Film Archives.



Academy Award ®-nominated filmmaker Steve James’ fascinating and complex portrait of contemporary Chicago delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of a quintessentially American city, set against the backdrop of its history-making 2019 mayoral election, and the tumultuous 2020 summer of COVID-19 and social upheaval following the death of George Floyd.

Steve James

Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor

Steve James is a two-time Academy Award nominee who has earned four Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award nominations, winning for 1994’s “Hoop Dreams.” That film marked his first Oscar nomination (Best Film Editing), as well as an Independent Spirit Award win. James received his second Oscar nod (Best Documentary Feature) for 2016’s “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” which was named one of the National Board of Review’s “Top 5 Documentaries of the Year” and won Best Political Documentary at the Critics’ Choice Awards. James’ other notable credits include “Stevie,” an Independent Spirit Award and Sundance prize winner; “The Interrupters,” which won an Emmy, Independent Spirit Award and the duPont-Columbia Journalism Award; and the Roger Ebert biography “Life Itself,” named best documentary by the National Board of Review and the Producers Guild of America (PGA), as well as winning an Emmy for Best Editing. The director’s Starz docuseries “America to Me” premiered at Sundance and was one of the most acclaimed television shows of 2018.


March 25, 2023 7:08 AM
March 26, 2023 10:11 PM
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