A new five-part documentary City So Real looks at the city of Chicago during the 2019 mayoral election and through the current COVID-19 pandemic. National Geographic will broadcast a commercial-free presentation of the documentary on Thursday, October 29th.  

What’s Happening:

  • National Geographic Documentary Films has announced that the critically acclaimed five-part documentary series, City So Real, will air in an unprecedented one-night, five-hour, commercial-free event on Thursday, October 29 beginning at 7:00 pm ET/PT.
  • All five episodes will then be available on Hulu the following day – Friday, October 30th.
  • City So Real was an official Indie Episodic selection at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival where it had its world premiere.
  • The premiere on National Geographic will exclusively feature an epic fifth episode that follows the COVID-19 pandemic and social uprising following George Floyd’s death.

About City So Real:

  • From filmmaker Steve James (America to Me, Hoop Dreams) and his longtime producing partner Zak Piper (Life Itself, The Interrupters), the 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.
  • In candid interviews with residents throughout the city, the series captures Chicago’s indomitable spirit as well as its seemingly insurmountable challenges. City So Real is a gritty and loving depiction of a quintessentially American city that is at once fiercely unique and a microcosm of the nation ⎯ and our world ⎯ as a whole.

I am a voter.:

  • As part of Walt Disney Television’s civic engagement campaign, National Geographic is partnering with I am a voter. to encourage viewers to vote in the upcoming election.
  • Across the network leading up to the election including during the five-hour, commercial-free broadcast of City So Real, I am a voter. PSAs will air and National Geographic will leverage its social media accounts to promote the important message of voting.
  • To further spark critical conversations surrounding voting and other significant themes from the series, National Geographic is also launching an educational campaign which will provide City So Real to classrooms across the country through virtual screenings.
  • Educators will be equipped with a discussion guide to help further the dialog, voter resources and a voter guide to highlight the importance of local elections.

City So Real Episodes

Episode 1 – “Welcome to Chicago”

  • Facing a growing chorus of activists, incumbent Rahm Emanuel must choose whether to run for reelection against a large and diverse field of candidates in the most contested mayor’s race in Chicago history. Influencing his decision is the beginning of the high-profile trial for the murder of Laquan McDonald by a white police officer.

Episode 2 – “Blood Sport”

  • The Laquan McDonald trial unfolds and dominates media attention. With Rahm Emanuel now out of the race, a record 21 mayoral candidates submit their petitions to replace him. They must navigate the highly politicized and contentious petition challenge process to make the ballot. Chicago is famous for its rough- and-tumble politics that is considered a blood sport.

Episode 3 – “With All Due Respect to the Candidate”

  • During a bitterly cold Chicago winter, the petition process results in a mayoral ballot with a record 14 candidates. A historic verdict is reached in the Laquan McDonald murder trial, and the longest-tenured city alderman in Chicago history is federally indicted on corruption charges.

Episode 4 – “If You Want to Break the Machine”

  • No clear front-runner emerges in the historic mayoral race. Over a dozen candidates intensify attacks on each other and jockey for votes, culminating in a surprising and historic outcome that promises to profoundly shape the city’s uncertain future.

Episode 5 – “You Gotta Make It or You Gotta Take It”

  • One year after the mayoral election, the mayor and city residents must grapple with both the devastating COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread social upheaval following the police killing of George Floyd. An already fractured city is further divided as police clash with protesters, giving rise to a generational moment that promises to change the city forever.