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The big news in the Midwest documentary world is the upcoming premiere of THE SCHOOL PROJECT, a collaboration between Free Spirit Media, Kartemquin Films, Kindling Group, Siskel/Jacobs Productions, and Media Process Group that addresses the historic closing of 49 Chicago public schools.

The six-part series of 10-minute segments will launch at the Chicago History Museum on Tuesday, October 28 at 7 pm. Simultaneously, the series will air on WTTW/Channel 11 and a brand-new interactive website will be launched at schoolprojectfilm.com.

Rachel Dickson, a producer of TSP, feels that one of the goals of the series is “to keep people talking and conversing about the issues, and looking for community-based solutions to make public education work for everyone.”

This first large-scale partnership between these documentary production organizations “speaks to how collegial the community is and how much we respect and like each other and want to collaborate,” says Kindling Group’s Danny Alpert. “I also think it speaks to an emergence of the Chicago doc community in a new way. We are more and more prolific and dynamic—more co-productions are springing up, last year’s Good Pitch Chicago was a big success and another round is planned for next April, IFP is more active and Chicago Media Project has begun to produce local programs — it’s an exciting time.”


Dinesh Sabu’s film about mental health within the Indian community, UNBROKEN GLASS, is in postproduction. Editor Matt Lauterbach is freshly returned from his honeymoon and working on having a rough cut ready in early 2015. Additionally, Sabu will be screening selects from the film at the National Immigrant and Refugee Conference being held in Chicago on October 23 – 24.

RAISING BERTIE by Chicago filmmaker Margaret Byrne has been awarded one of the inaugural Southern Documentary Fund Filmmaking Grants. The film addresses rural education and poverty through the experiences of three young men in Bertie (bur-tee’) County, NC.


Be on the lookout for these premieres coming up this week:

At the Chicago International Film Festival this week: ALGREN, directed by Michael Caplan, follows up its October 14 premiere with two additional showings on October 20 & 21. ON BEAUTY by Joanna Rudnick screens on October 18.

Chicago REEL Shorts Film Festival premiered Brian Gersten’s short doc THE AMAZING MR. ASH this past Friday, October 10.

The Chicago-made doc LAKAY from Tirf Alexius and Remoh Romeo heads into theaters in Chicago and across the country this weekend. Head to our TRAILER PARK for a preview of the film, tickets and showtimes!

Do you have anything you would like to share with the Midwest documentary community? Contact me at loadingdoc.rm@gmail.com

Rondell is currently in pre-production on a documentary about the experiences and identity transformation of Iraqi refugee women in the United States. She has completed a documentary short on Bernie's Book Bank, which can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/rondellm.