70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green Film Screening with Dir. Ronit Bezalel

For 70 years, there stood a public housing community in Chicago known as Cabrini Green. Home to thousands, misunderstood by millions, Cabrini Green once towered over some of Chicago’s most expensive neighborhoods, a looming reminder of inequality and poverty. Cabrini’s high-rises were demolished as part of Chicago’s $1.5 billion Plan for Transformation, funded through the federal HOPE VI program. The result was an African American community cleared to make room for another social experiment: mixed-income neighborhoods.

Shot over the course of twenty years, 70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green (2015; U.S.; 55 min.), directed by Ronit Bezalel, documents this upheaval, from the the fiery protests to save the complex, to the razing of the first buildings in 1995, to the clashes in the mixed-income neighborhoods that replaced it. 70 Acres tells the volatile story of this hotly contested patch of land, while looking unflinchingly at race, class, and who has the right to live in the city.


For more information on the film, visit


Introduction by Alex F. Schwartz

Alex F. Schwartz is professor at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at the New School, and Director of the Milano School’s Urban Policy Lab. He is author of Housing Policy in the United States.

Discussion with director Ronit Bezalel and Hunter faculty Matthew G. Lasner

Ronit Bezalel has been creating social issue documentary films for over 25 years. She began her career at the National Film Board of Canada. Her award-winning film, Voices of Cabrini: Remaking Chicago’s Public Housing (1999), received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Award to catalyze dialogue about affordable housing issues in Chicago neighborhoods. Newsweek magazine selected her as one of the “Top 10 Women of the 21st Century” for this work.

Matthew Gordon Lasner is associate professor of urban studies and planning at Hunter College where he teaches courses on U.S. and global urbanism, housing, and the built environment. His research explores the production of metropolitan American space from a humanistic perspective, with a focus on the relationship between the design professions, social change, the market, and the state in the arena of housing. He is the author of the award-winning High Life: Condo Living in the Suburban Century, which explores the rise of co-owned multifamily housing in the U.S. (co-ops and condos, market-rate and affordable), and is co-editor of Affordable Housing in New York: The People, Places, and Policies That Transformed a City; he also curated an exhibition of the same name at Hunter East Harlem Gallery in 2016. He is currently working on a book called Community Urbanism: Bay Area Designers, Gay Identity, and the Reimagining of U.S. Housing, 1942-1990. He earned his PhD in architecture and urban planning at Harvard and holds an MS in urban and regional planning from the London School of Economics.

70 Acres from the New York Perspective: Concluding Remarks by Nicholas Dagen Bloom

Nicholas Dagen Bloom is associate professor of social science and Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies and Urban Administration at NYIT. He is author of Public Housing That Worked: New York in the Twentieth Century and co-editor of Affordable Housing in New York: The People, Places, and Policies That Transformed a City and Public Housing Myths: Perception, Reality, and Social Policy.

70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green Film Screening | Posted on September 26th, 2016 | Faculty Public Programs, Film Screenings, Public Programs