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New Documentary Explores 1995 Chicago Heat Wave

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1995 Chicago heat wave

A group of kids uses a fire hydrant to cool down in the heat and humidity of Chicago on July 14, 1995. Temperatures neared 100 degrees for the second straight day.

Charles Bennett

In Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, filmmaker Judith Helfand argues that the term “disaster” needs to be redefined. The new documentary explores the 1995 Chicago heat wave that claimed more than 700 lives — mostly on the city’s South and West Sides. Helfand directed and produced the film, which is based on the book Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. She joins the Morning Shift to talk about her investigation into the residents who died during the 1995 heat wave and how city officials responded at the time.

GUEST: Judith Helfand, director and producer of Cooked: Survival by Zip Code

LEARN MORE: ”Cooked” will run at the Gene Siskel Film Center from July 12 to July 25. For tickets, visit

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