Operating from its home base in Chicago where it was founded in 1966, Kartemquin Films has become an internationally-recognized beacon for engaged and engaging nonfiction filmmaking dedicated to affecting democratic change.  Activist in stance, at the heart of its success and at the core of its mission has been its principled commitment to telling human-scale stories from intimate and disarming perspectives.  Union halls, college campuses, board meetings and courthouses appear throughout Kartemquin’s five decades of production but more present and more powerful are the dramas that unfold in living rooms, kitchens, front porches and backyards where its filmmakers take us.  From its earliest films produced as a form of “cinematic social inquiry,” such as Home for Life (1966) and Now We Live on Clifton (1974), to its groundbreaking, longitudinal masterworks, such as Hoop Dreams (1994), 5 Girls (2001) and Raising Bertie (2016), the recognizable struggles of ordinary people help illuminate the intersections of race, gender and class with social, cultural and economic concerns.  What emerges from across this body of work is not only a grassroots history of these issues as they have evolved over the years, but also, through Kartemquin’s unique relationship to the Chicago area and its residents, a sprawling and enthralling cinematic city symphony like no other.  Guided by co-founder and artistic director Gordon Quinn, the non-profit collective has also helped democratize the non-fiction production process by providing institutional support to filmmakers from concept to distribution, including forging strong relationships with community partners to extend the impact of their work." – Paul Malcolm, UCLA Film & Television Archive

PRAISE FOR KTQ50


These movies collectively represent the highest form of non-fiction filmmaking, illuminating with consummate skill a range of true-life stories that, when combined into an event like this, illustrate so much about humanity in all of its forms.
— Robert Levin, AM New York.
A champion of the cinéma vérité style, Kartemquin has remained committed to crafting indelible characters out of the social circumstances of their worlds; Quinn, James, and their collaborators have achieved humanizing narrative stakes while also impressing upon their audience the larger systemic fight that remains after the credits roll
— Peter Labuza, Village Voice
The Chicago-based nonfiction moviemaking collective Kartemquin Films would have left a mark on documentary history with Hoop Dreams alone. But by the time of that 1994 release, Kartemquin had been making films for nearly three decades. This anniversary retrospective shows off the full scope of the organization’s achievements, which in the 1970s often had an activist tinge. (One example is Trick Bag, showing on Saturday with other shorts from the period.) The group’s full catalog paints a vivid cross-section of life in Chicago and beyond.
— Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
For 50 years, Chicago documentary production company Kartemquin has been making thought-provoking documentaries that have had an international impact.
— Alexander Bisley, Guardian