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Go Behind The Scenes of CITY SO REAL
with National Geographic's Podcast THE MAKING OF

Extreme Close-Up on Chicago - and America
with CITY SO REAL Filmmaker Steve James
The five-part documentary series "City So Real" from Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Steve James ("Hoop Dreams," "America to Me") is a fascinating portrait of contemporary Chicago, delivering a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of a quintessentially American city. James shares his intimate understanding of his adopted hometown with host Stacey Wilson Hunt and the filmmaking and storytelling challenges of putting together a complex story like this one. LISTEN

CITY SO REAL’s Ears, Eyes and Editor:
A Chat With Zak Piper, Kevin Shaw and David E. Simpson

While a good documentary can leave viewers fascinated by its subject, creating "City So Real" has had the same effect on its production team. Host Stacey Wilson Hunt explores the making of National Geographic’s new five-part documentary series about modern-day Chicago with producer and sound recordist Zak Piper, cinematographer Kevin Shaw, and editor David E. Simpson. The result is one of the most critically acclaimed docuseries of 2020. LISTEN

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series


In the five-part documentary series CITY SO REAL, Oscar®-nominated documentarian Steve James ("America to Me," "Hoop Dreams") delivers a fascinating and complex portrait of Chicago, America’s third-largest metropolis and his longtime hometown. The series begins in the haze of mid-summer 2018, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, embroiled in accusations of a cover-up related to the police shooting of an African American teenager, Laquan McDonald, shocks the city by announcing he won’t seek reelection.

An unprecedented 21 candidates emerge in a diverse and crowded field as they engage in a no-holds-barred battle for a chance to shape Chicago’s uncertain future. The series’ final episode picks up a year after the mayoral election in 2020, as the city simultaneously grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread social upheaval following the death of George Floyd. An already fractured city is further divided by the economic, political and social fallout, which plays out on the streets as police clash with protesters, bringing rise to a generational moment that promises to change the city forever.

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.

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