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Kartemquin Films Celebrates 45 Years of Documentary Production

Special Events and Screening Series Scheduled through March 2012


Kartemquin Films, the acclaimed Chicago-based independent documentary film production company, is celebrating its 45th anniversary of making independent documentary films with a series of special events and screenings through March, 2012.

The launch of the ongoing celebration takes place on September 15, 2012, at Chicago's Metro. Hosted by NPR's Alison Cuddy, the celebration will feature previews of Kartemquin's upcoming 2012 releases, as well as live music and appearances by key Kartemquin filmmakers, including Steve James and Kartemquin founding members Gordon Quinn and Jerry Bumenthal. The event is the first of many scheduled throughout this fall in recognition of Kartemquin's unique longevity and accomplishments.

Kartemquin Films was founded in 1966 by University of Chicago graduates Stan Karter, Jerry Temaner and Gordon Quinn (hence the name Kar-Tem-Quin), who were interested in "cinematic social inquiry" that allowed people to tell their stories in an intimate cinema verite style. The studio is still best known for Hoop Dreams, Steve James' 1994 documentary that follows two African American boys who aim to become college basketball stars on the road to getting to the NBA and realizing their 'hoop dreams.' But Kartemquin has a catalog of formidable documentaries that shine a spotlight on social issues, and use nonfiction film to raise public awareness, stimulate public debate and create change.

This anniversary year is, in itself, a banner year, with the studio reporting that it has a record number of films in production and that it is surpassing its own per-annum screenings record with its 2011 schedule of more than 1,000 live events, screenings and television broadcasts of films from its back-catalog of over 40 social issue documentaries.

Kartemquin's most recent release, The Interrupters, directed by Steve James and produced by Alex Kotlowitz, is currently showing in theaters across the United States. The film is about a violence-prevention group that works in Chicago's rundown and economically deprived inner city neighborhoods. The Interrupters has won numerous awards at domestic and foreign film festivals in 2011, set a new box office record at Chicago's Gene Siskel Film Center, and is being shown to delegates of the United Nations in a special screening on September 14, 2011.

Kartemquin's next release, entitled A Good Man, is about Tony Award-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones, and documents his work as he creates an original dance-theater piece commissioned by Ravinia Festival to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's bicentennial. Co-directed by Gordon Quinn and Bob Hercules, A Good Man premieres at Chicago's Gene Siskel Film Center from September 23 to 29, 2011, and will then be broadcast nationally on PBS' American Masters on November 11, 2011. The film documents Tony Award-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones as he creates an original dance-theater piece commissioned by Ravinia Festival in honor of Abraham Lincoln's bicentennial.

The 45th anniversary special events schedule includes Kartemquin retrospectives at:

  • Milwaukee Film Festival - (September 22 to October 2, 2011) - Featuring screenings of The Interrupters and A Good Man, plus Hoop Dreams, and a preview of American Arab a Kartemquin 2012 release, and Kartemquin-moderated panel discussions on social engagement and films dealing with Labor.

  • University of Chicago's Doc Films - Beginning on October 2nd, the Doc Films screening series will present 19 Kartemquin films from across every decade of the company's history in a 10-week retrospective running on successive Sunday nights. Screenings will be attended by Kartemquin filmmakers who graduated from the University of Chicago, and by the company's current Executive Director, Justine Nagan, who is also a University of Chicago graduate.

  • Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox - October 3 to 9, 2011 - The Kartemquin retrospective focuses on the work of Steve James, the Oscar-nominated documentarian who has been part of the Kartemquin family for almost 25 years. James will be present at select screenings of The Interrupters, Hoop Dreams and Stevie.

  • Virginia Film Festival - November 3 to 6, 2011 - The Kartemquin retrospective, titled Then and Now, 45 Years of Kartemquin Films features films from multiple decades of the company's history, with Gordon Quinn, the Kartemquin co-founder and current Artistic Director -- and, co director of A Good Man -- in house for Q&As and panel discussions.

  • Chicago's WTTW11 PBS Broadcasts - through March 2012 - WTTW, the nation's most watched public television station, began its Kartemquin retrospective in March, 2011, with the broadcast of Gordon Quinn's 1968 cinema verite classic, Inquiring Nuns, and has broadcast another Kartemquin film every month since. The series continues through March of 2012 with upcoming broadcasts of Refrigerator Mother, the nationwide television premiere of A Good Man, 5 Girls, and The Interrupters. Each broadcast in the Kartemquin retrospective is introduced by the filmmaker.

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