I did not expect this level of generosity from my friends, family, or all of you strangers out there. Thank you all who donated in amounts large and small. For those that are just getting here, yes you can still continue to back this project: the total budget for the film is 65k and I really do still need your support.
The folks at Fineprint Chicago have generously donated ten very dope t-shirts to entice people to get the project above the 100% level, definitely check those out as well. -Cyrus
The Project and Filmmaking Methods
This film is about ordinary people and everyday life on the South Side of Chicago. For the past four months I have immersed myself in the neighborhoods, all the while with the camera rolling. The way I meet people (and through them meet more people) is very informal, and basically if it's okay with them (and there's something interesting happening) I'll turn the camera on.
The film will be the culmination of my forays into the South Side: the places I go, the people I meet, and the things I see and learn. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s scary, other times it’s awkward. The film will simply show people doing their thing, and I've described the project to some people as "moving photojournalism." More than anything, the completed film will be like an album, or series of vignettes or sketches, a collection of scenes that when put together will form a more comprehensive portrait of contemporary life on the South Side.
Why the South Side?
1. They are almost 100% African-American.
2. Outsiders don’t come here. These neighborhoods are primarily residential, and unless you live here or are visiting someone here there is no reason to go (Chicago’s skyscrapers and workplaces, big-name restaurants, theaters and nightlife are all in other parts of the city).
3. These neighborhoods are plagued by poverty and gang violence.
It’s primarily because of the gang violence that the South Side has developed its reputation as being a dangerous place, and it’s probably because I’m Iranian (and am familiar with places whose negative characteristics have come to dominate their public image) that I've always been drawn to the South Side.
Lastly, the South Side is not made up of transplants, it’s made up of residents and families who have been living there for generations. People know each other and respect their elders and exercise a certain common ownership in their neighborhoods... traditional aspects of community that are found less and less in today’s fast-paced and quickly-changing world.
This film, then, is about how people live. In an age of sensationalized reality TV and oversimplified broadcast news, I hope that my more loose and informal style of non-fiction provides viewers with the opportunity not only to really get to know the people of the South Side, but to make their own assessments and interpretations about what they see.
I work as a freelance editor and cameraman, but my passion is documentary filmmaking. I have been producing my own work for a while, but never on such a large scale. On completion, this will be my first feature length independent film.
- (45 days)