The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture (CSRPC) at the University of Chicago presents the premiere of Byron Hurt’s Soul Food Junkies– a recent installation of the EMMY® and PEABODY award-winning PBS series Independent Lens airing in January 2013. The screening of the provocative documentary takes place at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 18, 2012 at the Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts (located at 915 West 60th Street on the University of Chicago campus) and closes with a panel discussion with Hurt, Dara Cooper (community health activist, Healthy Food Hub), Doriane Miller, MD (Associate Professor of Medicine and Director, Center for Community Health and Vitality at the University of Chicago Medicine), and Sheelah Muhammad(Inner-City Muslim Action Network, Healthy Schools Campaign and Place Matters) and local youth farmers from Growing Power Chicago.
Soul Food Junkies sets out on a historical and culinary journey to uncover the soul food tradition and its relevance to black cultural identity. The film made its national premiere in Miami, FL at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), where it beat out over 250 entries for CNN’s Best Documentary Award.
Hurt’s exploration was inspired by his father’s lifelong love affair with the high-fat, calorie-rich, traditional soul food diet and his refusal to give it up in the face of a life-threatening health crisis. But Hurt’s investigation taught him that the relationship between African Americans and dishes like ribs, grits and fried chicken is deep-rooted, complex and often fatal.
Through candid interviews with soul food cooks, historians and scholars, doctors, family members and everyday people, Soul Food Junkies puts this culinary tradition under the microscope to scrutinize both its positive and negative consequences. Additionally, the documentary examines the socioeconomic conditions in predominantly black neighborhoods, where it can be difficult to find healthful options. In the film, Hurt meets with pioneers in the emerging food justice movement, who are challenging the food industry, encouraging communities to “go back to the land” by creating sustainable and eco-friendly gardens, advocating for more healthful options in local supermarkets, supporting local farmers’ markets, avoiding highly processed fast foods and cooking healthier versions of traditional soul food.