Directed by Frederick Wiseman (USA, 1997, 200 min.). 16mm.

Public Housing documents daily life at the Ida B. Wells public housing development in Chicago. The film illustrates some of the experiences of people living in conditions of extreme poverty. Events shown include the work of the tenants council, street life, the role of police, job training programs, drug education, teenage mothers, dysfunctional families, elderly residents, nursery school and after-school teenage programs, and the activities of the city, state, and federal governments in maintaining and changing public housing.

“… Wiseman salts his film with example after example of pride and enterprise. For every long-lens shot of men on the corner snorting cocaine, there are shots of chess games, sewing circles, and laundry hung lovingly on the line. For every bureaucratese-speaking clerk from CHA, there is a sympathetic plumber or a roach exterminator who can’t do enough for an appreciative tenant … Frederick Wiseman … has an eye for subtle social distinctions.” —John McCarron, The Chicago Tribune


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