When the steel mills on Chicago’s Southeast Side closed decades ago, they left behind toxic sites that look harmless to the naked eye. Deriving its name from a deserted 67-acre hill made up of slag that Republic Steel/LTV dumped there during the 1950s–80s, The Hills is a place-based documentary where contaminated land, water, and wildlife play a leading role alongside the voices of community members.
Easily mistaken for gravel, slag is a byproduct of steelmaking and contains arsenic, chromium, lead, and other toxins. Recently declared a superfund site by the EPA, the abandoned property has long attracted heavy recreational use and toxins from the slag continue to leak into the adjacent Indian Creek. Providing a rich habitat for fish, beavers, and birds, Indian Creek links Wolf Lake, a major recreational fishing area, to the Calumet River which in turn connects to Lake Michigan, Chicago’s source of drinking water.
The Hills uses this singular site as starting point to consider the area’s industrial history, labor, and current environmental justice struggles.
This free film screening and Q&A with the filmmaker, Ines Sommer, will be held outdoors at Calumet Park.
Bring your own blankets, folding chairs, & snacks!
Note: The Southeast Chicago Historical Society, a source for the film and housed in the Calumet Park field house, will re-open on June 8th from 7pm-8:30pm so that audience members can explore their exhibits before the screening starts. The field house will close at 9pm.