Kartemquin Films. This wonderful Chicago film institution can best be summed up by their Mission statement:


Our Mission

Kartemquin Films is a home for independent filmmakers developing documentary as a vehicle to deepen our understanding of society through everyday human drama. Focusing on people whose lives are most directly affected by social and political change and who are often overlooked or misrepresented by the media, Kartemquin’s films open up a dialogue, both in communities and between the general public and policymakers.

Kartemquin documentaries are supported by civic engagement strategies that are developed with local and national partners to foster understanding, change thinking, and build support for social change. As a locally and nationally-recognized media arts organization, Kartemquin acts as a trusted bridge between communities and the media, fosters the growth of emerging filmmaking voices passionate about social issues and media policy, and encourages staff and stakeholders to play a role in advocating for a strong public media.


These are the words of an organization that has not only shined a light into how we live our lives but has also illustrated ways in which those lives could be better lived. Though it’s most well known as the company that made Hoop Dreams (1994) a reality, Kartemquin Films is a long-standing Chicago institution. Since its inception in the late 1960s, Kartemquin has been a thriving hub for socially conscious documentary filmmakers. In 1998, the Chicago Film Critics Association presented Kartemquin partners Gordon Quinn and Jerry Blumenthal with the “Big Shoulders” award, honoring their “ongoing efforts to promote filmmaking [that] best exemplifies the bold, innovative, and independent spirit of Chicago.” And in 2007, Kartemquin received one of eight international MacArthur Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions.

Hollywood On Lake Michigan, 2nd Edition has much more about the beginnings and early history of Kartemquin films, but now I want to introduce a new weeklyish segment, Kartemquin Korner (sorry, I just can’t resist the cutesy hometown newspaper-esque misspelling); where I will spotlight a particular Kartemquin Film. The first installment will be about the second most renowned  Kartemquin film, The Interrupters (2011).