Hoop Dreams inspired the formation of the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund in 1996, helping to provide opportunities to over 1,000 urban public school children. The film was voted the best documentary of all time in 2007 by the International Documentary Association, and has inspired a generation of filmmakers.
“Today, fifteen years after I first saw it, I believe "Hoop Dreams" is the great American documentary. No other documentary has ever touched me more deeply. It was relevant then, and today…..” Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
In the Family can claim to be one of the rare films that have directly helped change the law. The film has been the focal point of both a successful legal challenge by the ACLU over genetic patents, and in raising awareness of breast and ovarian cancer while inspiring countless women to have the courage to tell their own stories.
"I just wanted to thank you for sharing your personal story in your film. I am a certified genetic counselor and have been working in cancer genetics for 3 years. Your film changed how I do my job, my interactions with patients, the support that I give them and an empathy that I did not have before... I think I am better at helping patients because of your film. I thank you, and every patient who comes back to me after watching your film often thank you as well." - Commenter, In the Family forum.
Supported by an extensive outreach campaign, the Peabody Award-winning Terra Incognita was praised by scientists, educators and activists on both sides of the moral debate over stem cell research for its unbiased and moving approach to the issue, and became the centerpiece for discourse on the role of scientific research in a democratic society.
“Wonderful, thoughtful and educational film. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, even though it is so far past my bedtime. I learned so much about embryonic stem cell research that I have actually changed my mind considerably about its use, ethically and spiritually.” - Independent Lens viewer
A community of design, letterpress and typography fans has already built around Typeface, with many people creating new artworks inspired by the film and hosting their own screenings. The Hamilton Wood Type museum has seen a large surge in visitors from across the world making the pilgrimage to Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and a number of offers to collaborate with some of the world’s leading print museums and experts.
“My first visitor today was from the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, a woman who wants to partner with us for projects and offered their auditorium to us for fundraising. Next was a local guy, former Hamilton employee who has type cases and a few other things he'd like to donate to us. What they shared in common was having seen the documentary on public TV the other night and felt compelled to contact me. Several visitors the last two days came in strictly because they too saw the film. Just wanted you to know the simple repercussions that do great things for us. I'll thank you again, since I keep getting reminded how powerful the films message is.” – Jim Moran, Hamilton Wood Type Museum
At the Death House Door was featured at a special hearing on Capital Punishment at the Texas State Capitol attended by lawmakers, scholars, and activists, and also screened on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. before a House Judiciary Subcommittee.
“I show this film to my students whenever I teach the persuasive essay, and class discussion is always fruitful afterwards. A gorgeously rendered documentary that speaks to the heart and soul.” – College Professor
The New Americans had an immense outreach and civic engagement campaign with innumerable partners including Active Voice, Outreach Extensions, ITVS, and the Kettering Foundation’s National Issues Forum, with such partner organizations and institutions, including primary and secondary schools, ESL classes, as well as regional and national civic and advocacy organizations concerned about immigrant issues. These programs, DVD modules and accompanying study guides enjoy large interest and brisk sales today.
"I used to believe that all immigrants were dangerous and illegal.  I guess my opinion has always been controlled by those around me. You however have made me realize that most come here for self preservation and a new chance at life, thank you." - 8th grade student, Alder Creek Middle School, Oregon.
A constant favorite with film teachers and students of all ages, Inquiring Nuns has inspired many inquisitive minds to make their own short films asking "Are you happy?"
"Two classrooms of freshman film students are out on the loose right now accosting strangers after having watched your nuns on the loose... [they] immediately felt the inspiration to use the camera as a tool for social inquiry. Thanks for the inspiration. This was a real pleasure for me." - Columbia College Chicago Film Professor.
The first Kartemquin film, Home for Life, has been used for decades in schools of social work, nursing, human development, ethnography, and sociology. In institutions serving the elderly, it is used not only for training, but to re-examine their organizational procedures and policies.
Home For Life is the most moving and gently penetrating film I have seen, dealing with the theme of old age in our society. It is, in a sense, a hymn to life; yet, it presents a challenge to us to face up to one of the most pressing problems of our day—our attitude towards the aged. In its own way, it is a work of art rather than an artful work." – Studs Terkel, Author
Stevie is still regularly used by academic and professionals courses dealing with the issues presented in the film. When the film premiered on Cinemax, over 300 social service organizations around the country downloaded the outreach materials, which were designed to help organizations use the film in professional settings.
“All criminal justice professionals should see it. It moves me every time I see it. It is sad, compelling, desperate and inspiring—a veritable roller coaster ride of emotions...” – Organizer, American Society of Criminology Annual Conference.
Refrigerator Mothers made a large impact on many viewers who watched the film on PBS’ POV Series in 2002. After working on the film, producer JJ Hanley was inspired to create JJ’s List, a website that aims to build positive and productive interaction between businesses and people with disabilities. The film continues to be acclaimed by historians, academics and organizations that work with autism.
“This movie made me weep for the women, the children, and the husbands affected by this disorder at a time when blame was the only thing psychology had to offer… I was so pleased to find this film to be as informative and insightful as it was, and commend the directors for a stunning and moving look into the lives of 1940s and 50s families affected by this incredibly painful subject.” – PBS viewer.
Films made in the moment, for the moment, these groundbreaking documentaries were instrumental in documenting local area strikes and delivering an instant impact, affecting the course of events for each union.
"In What's Happening at Local 70, one of the employment offices went on a wildcat strike. Everybody was against them. Judy Hoffman made this little film in one day, and we started showing it that night. The response was surprising. We showed it in bars and parks. The union finally called a meeting, and we were at that meeting. Enough people had seen the film, and there were shouts of "Show the tape, show the tape!" They showed it and lost the vote! And so, our little film literally changed the course of what was happening. For these films, we found a different kind of audience, an audience that was directly affected by what we were covering. When we showed the film, we would be able to hear a pin drop - they were riveted. It was critical information for them." - Gordon Quinn
Backed by an extensive community engagement campaign built around classroom use and encouraging inter-generational dialogue, 5 Girls made a nationwide impact upon release. The United Nations’ UN Works program recently selected the film as an educational resource for girls’ education.
“I am always looking for positive videos and material that I can use as a part of this program to help enhance their self esteem and positive goal-setting so your film can be helpful in many opportunities.” Administrator, Florida Public School Program for At-Risk Girls.
After Vietnam: Long Time Coming was broadcast on NBC, World T.E.A.M. Sports received an immense outpouring of support from moved viewers, and the film was covered favorably by numerous major media publications. An outreach campaign aimed at schools was well received, as was a series of public events featuring subjects of the film.
"This touching film is still in circulation and is still touching those of us who lived through this era--with tears, remembrances, regret, horror, sadness, sympathy and empathy for the Vietnam vets (on both sides) of this awful war." - Commenter, Vietnam: Long Time Coming SnagFilms page.
Upon release, Golub was acclaimed by many critics as one of the best cinematic depictions of an artist and artistic creation ever made. Paired with the follow-up film Late Works are the Catastrophes, the films offer a moving depiction of the artist's changing relationship to his medium as he grows older, and of the evolution of Kartemquin's own filmmaking practices.
"One of the few films about a painter that actually captures the art making process in all its complexity." - Carol Becker, Art Institute of Chicago.
Broadcast on public television and endorsed by the Steel Workers' Union despite its unprecedented exposure of tumultuous union meetings and fraught negotiations between workers and management, Taylor Chain was praised for it's portrayal of true democracy in action. At a time when union workers were stereotyped and the union was highly protective of its image, Taylor Chain altered perceptions of the steel workers among the public at large, and within the labor movement itself.
"This remarkable inside view of a union in action reminds us of what the workers at Taylor Chain already know: only together can they really make a difference. The film also preserves a slice of industrial American life that would otherwise be lost" - Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
After a screening in Florida in the late 1970’s, viewers of the film were so moved that they marched to the local hospital and demanded a meeting with the Board of Directors to protest the issues raised in the film. The film continues to be shown by medical schools, women's groups and hospitals today.
"A fascinating - and still relevant - look at home birth and the industrialization of women’s health care." - Julie Deardoff, Chicago Tribune journalist
Created specifically for classroom use, Now We Live on Clifton conveys the process of urban renewal through the eyes of two Chicago youths. It continues to serve as a great educational resource in discussing childhood poverty, gentrification and urban geography.
Ralph Cintron, of The New Art Examiner, said: “By allowing the children to watch the world around them and talk about it, Kartemquin has managed to make the film accessible to the public at large..."
Released in 2010, Prisoner of Her Past has already led to some of the most emotional post-screening discussions held after a Kartemquin film. With many screenings still to come over the next year, including a broadcast on PBS next spring in commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the valuable impact of this film on communities affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma and the Holocaust will only grow.
“After the Q-and-A session ended, a large group of kids surged to the front of the room to tell me their own stories, one-on-one. Many wept as they recounted what happened to their grandparents in Europe, and how similar their family narratives were to mine. Others told of relatives who experienced horrors in Japan during World War II … and only reluctantly told their grandchildren the tale. Over and over, I was struck by the maturity of these students, their awareness of the suffering of their elders and their own heroism in sharing this information with me. Many said they were determined to tell these stories through the course of their careers, to keep the memories alive, to try to help others.” – Howard Reich, Prisoner of Her Past subject/filmmaker.
Milking the Rhino has become a focal point of the movement to advance Community Based Conservation, and has been acclaimed by academic institutions worldwide. In 2010, New Zealand’s Wellington Zoo used a screening of the film as the basis for a fundraising benefit, and the film’s subject, John Kasaona, was invited to give a talk at the prestigious TED conference.
“This powerful documentary offers a distinctive perspective that is miles removed from the popular 'wild Africa' documentaries which celebrate animals while virtually ignoring the people... Highly recommended." – Video Librarian
Committed to using this film to encourage an open dialogue about race, No Crossover director Steve James personally attended a number of screenings across the United States, including three in his hometown of Hampton, Virginia. When the film aired on ESPN, it sparked a real time debate on race and celebrity in America through Twitter users, with the phrase “Allen Iverson” the 6th most used phrase worldwide during the broadcast.
“"And there we were, a group of 100+, black and white and diverse in 
countless other ways (but unified in our interest in a film and a 
filmmaker) talking about race – REALLY talking about it – agreeing and 
disagreeing, pushing on points, relenting, listening, and maybe even (at
least for a moment, at least partially) understanding."  - Blogger describing AFI Silver Docs screening.