Thursday night WTTW aired an hour-long documentary, My Neighborhood: Pilsen, the centerpiece of a multimedia project on a part of Chicago that’s preoccupied with something the documentary barely mentioned.

That’s gentrification; or, if you wish, simply Mexican-Americans moving out.

“Pilsen has changed a lot,” said a woman speaking in Spanish in voice-over late in the program. (I’m quoting the subtitles.) “And although we would like it to continue to be a community for Mexican families I don’t think that many Mexican families look at it that way anymore. Now I see it like a—neighborhood in the United States. A Chicago neighborhood.”

Finally, the documentary was getting down to it! But no, it wasn’t. “This year we lost three parishes in Pilsen,” said Alma Silva, a community organizer with Saint Pius V Parish. “And this is one of the results of change. It’s like closing a store that is simply not selling anymore.”

And with that oblique observation the program abandoned the subject. My Neighborhood: Pilsen is a mosaic, a look at Pilsen that doesn’t linger on anything and neither imposes nor extracts any particular point of view beyond the celebratory. “We’re survivors,” said someone at the start, though of what wasn’t made clear. “We’re all in this struggle together . . .” said someone else. “A community that’s well organized can do pretty amazing things,”

Such notes of pride rang to the final credits.

A friend who lives there tells me that what distinguishes Pilsen from other neighborhoods, including other Mexican neighborhoods, truly is the dynamism and vision of its community leadership. By capturing and displaying that dynamism, WTTW paid Pilsen a tribute it deserves. But footage of local activists thinking out loud as they take orchestrated walks along Pilsen streets and push open doors to interesting place where they‘re introduced to other people you suspect they already know doesn’t rivet our attention. Too much artifice. Too little story line. And where is the argument?

In a movie where everyone’s a hero, where’s the villain? Intermittently, we heard about a young man with artistic talent who died of a heroin overdose, leaving behind a pregnant girlfriend. His story became narrative glue, and at the end of the program the baby was born. If there’s no villain, at least there can be tragedy and rebirth. But what did this formulaic embroidering tell us about Pilsen? And then it was November 9. “I never really thought that the Republican Party would beat us like this,” said Alma Silva, who came here illegally and whose two oldest daughters are undocumented.

“Everyone is just in fear,” said someone else.

“All I could think of was my daughters,” said Silva.

“It’s a struggle, that’s what I’ve learned,” said a voice-over, as we saw friends and family gathered around the new baby. “We’re all going to have to fight for something. Just continue to fight for our rights, our families, for our communities. Fight for our country.”

And on that defiant tangent the documentary went to credits. How much harder would it have been to find a stirring ending if Hillary Clinton had been elected?

Last Thursday night My Neighborhood: Pilsen was screened at Juarez high school. A panel discussion followed. I wasn’t there but someone who was said the discussion was dominated by the topic the movie conspicuously ignored—gentrification. Someone called it the elephant in the room.

It’s not as if WTTW believes acknowledging the reality that Mexican-Americans are moving out would invalidate its project. The station has created a My Neighborhood: Pilsen website, which promises a year of stories. The site looks at Pilsen far more granularly than the documentary does and meets neighborhood change head on. It tells us the Czechs who gave Pilsen its name followed the Irish and were followed by Poles, who were displaced in the 1960s by Mexicans. And “as the neighborhood’s amenities, opportunities, and safety have improved, Pilsen has gentrified, becoming increasingly attractive not only to a growing Latino middle-class, but also to non-Latino populations, real estate developers, and businesspeople. Many long-time residents say Pilsen, as they have long known it, is under assault.

“But Pilsen has a long history of fighting back.”

What does fighting back even mean? The part of Chicago I live in used to be German. Did the Germans turn tail when they should have fought back? Or did a lot of the Germans simply move on? Why isn’t Greek Town Greek? Why isn’t Bridgeport still Irish? What was wrong with those people?

The website has a lot to say about gentrification. “Property values have increased, rents have gone up, and the number of low-income, Latino families has declined. Between 2000 and 2010, the Latino population in Pilsen declined by 26 percent,” it says.

“These changes have triggered difficult conversations about race, class, and whether any community has the right to claim ownership of an urban neighborhood for very long. But Pilsen has a long history of not backing down from a fight, and community leaders are confronting this challenge head-on. . .

“In recent years, Pilsen residents have joined forces, rallied resources, and invented new tools with which to challenge their elected leaders, oppose displacement, preserve affordability, and protect the neighborhood’s character. Whether they will succeed remains to be seen. But if it can be done in Chicago, it will be done in Pilsen.”

WTTW might have produced a more involving, if very different, documentary on Pilsen if it had examined those tools and explored the question “whether any community has the right to claim ownership of an urban neighborhood for very long.” Are Pilsen’s extraordinary leaders now fighting a rear-guard action in hopes of preserving their community in amber?

My Neighborhood: Pilsen didn’t touch the question, but it served less profound purposes. It put one of Chicago’s more offbeat and colorful communities on Chicagoans’ radars as a point of pride rather than fear. It might even have made more of them entertain the idea of moving to Pilsen.

And it should definitely inspire high school students. WTTW, in partnership with the Chicago Public Schools and buildOn,  is creating a video production workshop for high school students, who’ll make short documentaries about their own neighborhoods. Kids who spend an hour watching My Neighborhood: Pilsen will realize it’s not complicated getting people to ignore a camera and talk about home. The ones bursting to express strong points of view might even conclude they could go WTTW one better.