• 70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green
    Ronit Bezalel

Ronit Bezalel, still from 70 Acres in Chicago: Gabrini Green. Image: Mitch Wenkus.

70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green is a video and study-guide documenting a key point in Chicago's housing history when high-rise public housing was torn down and replaced with low-density, mixed-income communities. The film provides a salient historical context and political analysis explaining the birth of Chicago's public housing and why it is currently slated for demolition, while exploring the impact of this demolition on the Cabrini community. The film examines key questions of identity: How does physical environment play in role in shaping our identities? What happens to our collective identities when the physical community is destroyed? Cabrini Green is a sequel to Bezalel's critically acclaimed Voices of Cabrini: Remaking Chicago's Public Housing (1999), a documentary chronicling the redevelopment of Cabrini Green from the perspective of residents, community activists, and local business owners that was described by Newsweek as a "touchstone in the debate over public housing."

Ronit Bezalel has been creating documentary films for over fiftenn years. She began her career at the National Film Board of Canada, where she directed When Shirley Met Florence (1994). Bezalel's award-winning film Voices of Cabrini: Remaking Chicago's Public Housing (1999), which catalyzed dialogue about affordable housing issues in ten different Chicago neighborhoods, received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Award. Newsweek selected Bezalel as one of the "Top 10 Women of the Twenty-First Century" (2001) for this work. Bezalel holds an MFA from Columbia College in Chicago, and a BA from McGill University in Montreal.

Catherine Crouch is an award-winning filmmaker based in Indianapolis, Indiana. She received her MFA in film and video from Columbia College Chicago in 1999. Stray Dogs (2001) Catherine's 35mm feature film debut as a writer/director, was released to DVD by Spectrum Films and is available through Netflix. Screenwriting credits include cowriting the HBO Original Movie Stranger Inside (2001) with director Cheryl Dunye and cowriting the documentary Damn Good Dog (2004) with director Erica McCarthy. Other notable film work includes cinematography of the DV feature documentaries Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @ 100 (1999) and Sisters In Cinema (2003), both directed by Yvonne Welbon and the writing and editing of Slaves of the Saints (2010), a documentary about Macumba in Rio de Janiero directed by Kelly E. Hayes.

Judy Hoffman is senior lecturer in the Committee on Cinema and Media Studies and Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago. A major focus of her film work has been with the Kwakwaka'wakw First Nation of British Columbia, about whom she has produced films and videotapes related to the reclaiming of Native culture. Hoffman brings a technical knowledge of film and a forty-year background in social documentary filmmaking and organizing to the project.

Mark Pratt, a former Cabrini Green resident, is coproducer of Cabrini Green: Mixing it Up, and is also featured in the documentary. As part of Voices of Cabrini, he was an instrumental force in connecting Bezalel to the Cabrini community. He graduated with a BA in film from Columbia College in Chicago, and has since directed, filmed, and edited dozens of independent narrative films and music videos. He recently produced and edited the award-winning film Hell Ain't Full (directed by Russell Norman), which screened at the Black Harvest Film Festival and the American Black Film Festival in 2010. He brings his invaluable knowledge of the Cabrini Green community to this project.

Brenda Schumacher is a filmmaker, community organizer, and marketing communications professional. Schumacher directed and produced the Chicago Gay Games VII documentary, which featured athletes and artists from 70 countries. As the broadcast communications director for the Chicago Games, she produced nationally broadcast television commercials, promotional videos, and a video tribute that was screened live on Schumacher brings years of experience as a social justice activist to Cabrini Green: Mixing it Up, and she helps to shape the film's public policy framework and leads its marketing campaign. Schumacher holds a BA from Northwestern University.

Janet Smith is associate professor and codirector of the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She coedited and authored the book Where are Poor People to Live? (M. E. Sharpe, 2006), about Chicago's public housing transformation. Her teaching, research, and community service focus on equity issues in local housing planning and policy implementation.