Barack Obama moves to Chicago in 1985, in part, because of a man he’d never met: Harold Washington.

Obama would later say: “For those of you who recall Chicago at that time, it’s hard to forget the sense of possibility that he sparked in people.”

Punch 9 for Harold Washington will be the first feature-length documentary film to tell Washington’s story.Harold Washington runs for Chicago mayor in 1983 as a long-shot candidate. He squeaks out an improbable victory in the Democratic primary – then White Democrats immediately abandon him for his Republican opponent.

Their slogan? “Epton for Mayor. Before It’s Too Late.”

Washington survives the toughest, dirtiest, most expensive municipal election in American history to become Chicago’s first African-American Mayor.

On his very first day in office, an all-White majority of the City Council forms an opposition bloc that opposes Mayor Washington’s every move. City government grinds to a halt. The Wall Street Journal calls Chicago “Beiruit on the Lake.”

But Washington never backs down. Eventually, he prevails and keeps his promises of reform. He becomes an international figure, a symbol of American ideals. All around the world, people ask, ‘You’re from Chicago? How’s Harold?”

The story of Harold Washington could not be more timely. Racism in American politics has taken an ugly turn, while at the same time, minorities and women are gaining political clout they never had before. A showdown is inevitable.

A thrilling story with unforgettable characters, Punch 9 for Harold Washington is also a playbook for how to restore our American democracy.

Punch 9 for Harold Washington
DOCNYC 2021 Punch 9 for Harold Washington
Streaming Online November 14 – 28, 2021

at Cinépolis Chelsea
260 W 23rd St – New York, NY
Saturday, November 13, 2021 @ 10:45am

Chicago International Film Festival Punch 9 for Harold Washington
Chicago International Film Festival

Streaming Online October 15 – 24, 2021
in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin

at AMC River East (322 E Illinois St)
Thursday, October 14, 2021 @ 5:30pm CT

at AMC River East (322 E Illinois St)
Tuesday, October 19, 2021 @ 3:00pm CDT

Harold Washington by Marc PoKempner
photo©Marc PoKempner

Funding Provided By

City of Chicago
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs
Art Works
National Endowment for the Arts
Illinois Humanities
Baskin Family Foundation
Better Angels
Chicago Media Project
Field Foundation
Moving Documentary Films
Catapult Film Fund
Oppenheimer Family Foundation
DMR Enterprises
Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film

Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust

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