Kartemquin's 50th to Include City Events, Free Streaming

Kartemquin's 50th to Include City Events, Free Streaming

Kartemquin Films has unveiled a calendar of events and activities that will occur throughout 2016 to mark the organization’s 50th anniversary.

The not-for-profit documentary production collective, founded in 1966 by three University of Chicago graduates and best known for producing socially impactful works such as Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, and the Roger Ebert biopic Life Itself, also announced two significant grants totaling $1 million over the next two years.

Highlights of the 50th anniversary year include several retrospectives and screenings in Chicago and nationwide; an art exhibit; monthly television broadcasts; an academic book; workshops, panels, and master classes; and online streaming of the organization’s entire catalog of award-winning documentaries. The calendar, which will be updated throughout the year as new events and partners are added, is available at www.kartemquin.com/KTQ50.

"Milestones" Slated for June 24th

The centerpiece event will be a public gala titled “Milestones” to be held at Chicago’s Harris Theater on Friday, June 24th 2016. The event will reunite filmmakers, subjects, and prominent partners, fans, and alumni from across Kartemquin’s five decades for a celebration of the significant moments they have shared in creating over 55 different films since their founding in 1966. Chaz Ebert, President of The Ebert Company Ltd, and Publisher of RogerEbert.com, will serve as the honorary chair of the evening, which will be preceded by a dinner reception at the Chicago Cultural Center.

“Kartemquin’s 50th anniversary will not only showcase a half-century of acclaimed and inspiring Chicago-made documentaries, but provide unprecedented opportunities to launch several new films and filmmakers, and to shine a spotlight on the rich and varied documentary work flourishing in the Midwest," said new Kartemquin Executive Director Betsy Steinberg.

“The impact of Kartemquin on Chicago is hard to overstate," said Michelle T. Boone, Commissioner, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) for the City of Chicago. "They stand as a cultural institution all local citizens should know and be proud of, and we’re delighted to celebrate their commitment to serving artists and our community."

Boone announced that the city would host a 50 years of Kartemquin Art & Filmmaking Ephemera exhibit at Expo 72 featuring walking tours and a curated selection of Kartemquin’s historical photographs, artwork, and video and film mechanics. The exhibit will open May 28, 2016 and run through August 21, 2016.

New Fundraising Territory

Former Executive Director Justine Nagan, recently appointed as Executive Director of New York-based American Documentary, Inc, launched the organization into new fundraising territory during her eight years of leadership, increasing the annual budget from $800K in 2008 to $3.5 million in 2016, with a corresponding record growth of films in production and expanded programs to assist filmmakers. Nagan recently worked to secure substantial grants to ensure the organization will begin the next half century in a position of stability.

Kartemquin will receive $500,000 from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation over two years for leadership and infrastructure support, 50th anniversary celebrations and filmmaker services. The Sage Foundation is providing $500,000 over the next two years for general operating support, 50th anniversary celebrations and significant seed funds to launch a new initiative that will be announced at Kartemquin’s June 24th Milestones gala.

“These grants mark a notable transitional shift for the organization and the local documentary film industry,” said Adrianne Furniss, Chair of the 50th Anniversary Committee. "With $600,000 of these two grants coming in 2016, our fundraising goal is to secure an additional $400,000 next year to raise a total of $1 million dollars during our 50th anniversary, all going towards supporting documentary filmmaking."

New Initiatives

Programs that will be supported by the grants will include a continued commitment to public media advocacy. Recent initiatives Kartemquin has led include forming the Indie Caucus, a coalition of filmmakers that works to ensure the the health of documentaries within the public media system, and securing a renewed DMCA exemption to allow all documentary makers to exercise their “fair use” right to employ copyrighted footage in their work.

These initiatives were spearheaded by Artistic Director and co-founder Gordon Quinn, who will be honored with the International Documentary Association (IDA) prestigious 2015 Career Achievement Award on December 5th in Los Angeles. Previous winners of the illustrious IDA award include Robert Redford, Werner Herzog, Barbara Kopple, and Michael Moore.

“Our advocacy work is central to our mission to ensure that diverse voices are heard as part of a democracy," Quinn said. "2015 was a great year for strengthening the documentary industry, and we look to continue this in 2016 and for many years beyond.”

Kartemquin’s Hard Earned, a six-part series on people living on the minimum wage, is also IDA nominated for Best Series, and re-airs on Al Jazeera America starting Dec 20th. Another award-winning new film, Almost There, opens in theaters in Chicago and Los Angeles December 11th and opened in New York December 4th. Kartemquin currently has over 12 projects in production.

More from Kartemquin at kartemquin.com