1. Hoop Dreams (1994)
For this alternately thrilling and heartbreaking film, Steve James spent five years following two inner-city boys who hoped to play pro basketball someday.
2. Legacy (2000)
Tod Lending’s Oscar nominee tracks three generations of women living in the Henry Horner Homes as they cope with the murder of a 14-year-old relative.
3. Rape (1975)
Victims of sexual assault and harassment talk about their experiences in JoAnn Elam’s film, an important record of the hostile attitudes women faced in the 1970s.
4. The Interrupters (2012)
Collaborating with author Alex Kotlowitz, Steve James trails the efforts of a persistent few trying to break the cycle of violence in their neighborhoods.
5. You Weren’t There: A History of Chicago Punk 1977–1984 (2007)
Joe Losurdo and Christina Tillman immerse you in the noisy, energetic, and contentious underground scene.
6. The Corner (1963)
This obscure black-and-white project by Robert Ford (a Northwestern student at the time) focuses on West Side members of the notorious street gang the Vice Lords.
7. Hairy Who & the Chicago Imagists (2014)
Chicago’s celebrated group of subversive painters springs to life in Leslie Buchbinder’s vibrant film—a mix of animation, archival footage, and interviews.
8. Inquiring Nuns (1968)
Two Catholic sisters ask random passersby, “Are you happy?” in Gordon Quinn and Jerry Temaner’s delightful film that reflects the social unrest of the 1960s.
9. 8 Flags for 99 Cents (1970)
With their superb foray into white middle-class anger over the Vietnam War, filmmakers Chuck Olin and Joel Katz debunk the notion that only hippies were peaceniks.
10. Now We Live on Clifton (1974)
A series of interviews in this early project from Kartemquin Films captures the initial stages of gentrification in Lincoln Park, as yuppies displace blue-collar families.