A film by David Schalliol
2018, 93 minutes
No. 177

In the heart of the South Side of Chicago, an 85-acre area abutting a railyard means different things to different people. For more than 400 African American families, it is home. For Norfolk Southern railroad company, it is space to expand its train-to-truck intermodal depot. 

Directed by noted photographer David Schalliol, The Area begins in 2012, when Norfolk Southern has already bought out over half the area’s residents and is picking off the holdouts. Middle-aged homeowner Deborah Payne puts off her plans to move; instead, she digs in and becomes an ad hoc community organizer. As her neighbors jump ship and houses are pulled down, property values implode. Valiant and stubborn, Payne fights for fair-value buyouts and respect for those who remain. 

Filmed over the course of five years, The Area tells a a complex story of economic revitalization, commercial interests, and community rights.

Official Selection, Full Frame Film Festival
Official Selection, SF Indiefest
Official Selection, Black Harvest Film Festival
Official Selection, Detroit Freep Film Festival

"A stunning film, capturing the atmosphere that keeps remaining residents in the neighborhood despite the population decline around them." 
 Chicago Magazine

"Four Stars! An eye-opening saga of resistance... Schalliol is both a gifted architectural photographer and an empathetic portraitist. He has an appreciative eye for the proportions and lines of Englewood structures, some of them a century old, and there are breathtaking shots of trees silhouetted by fireworks in a velvety night sky." 
 Chicago Reader