Gordon Quinn

Founder and Artistic Director

Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn has been making documentaries for over 50 years. Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun Times, called his first film Home for Life (1966) "an extraordinarily moving documentary." With Home for Life Gordon established the direction he would take for the next four decades, making cinéma vérité films that investigate and critique society by documenting the unfolding lives of real people. 

At Kartemquin, Gordon created a legacy that is an inspiration for young filmmakers and a home where they can make high-quality, social-issue documentaries. Gordon currently executive produces and works creatively on all of our current productions. Kartemquin’s best known film, Hoop Dreams (1994), executive produced by Gordon, was released theatrically to unprecedented critical acclaim. The film follows two inner-city high school basketball players for five years as they pursue their NBA dreams. Its many honors include: the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, The Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Chicago Film Critics Award – Best Picture, Los Angeles Film Critics Association – Best Documentary and an Academy Award Nomination. 

Other films Gordon has made include Vietnam, Long Time Coming, Golub, 5 Girls, Refrigerator Mothers and Stevie.  Gordon executive produced Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita and The New Americans (he also directed the Palestinian segment of this award winning, intimate, seven-hour series). Recently he produced a film that deals with the human consequences genetic medicine, In The Family, and executive produced two films, one about community based conservation in Africa, Milking the Rhino, and At The Death House Door on a wrongful execution in Texas.  In the role of director, he recently completed Prisoner of Her Past, about a Holocaust survivor suffering from late-onset post-traumatic stress disorder, and co-directed the 2011 release A Good Man, about the dancer Bill T. Jones, which was broadcast on PBS' Emmy-winning documentary series American Masters

'63 Boycott, directed by Gordon and featuring unseen archival 16mm footage of the 1963 Chicago Public Schools Boycott shot by Quinn, world premiered at the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival, made its New York City premiere at the Museum of Modern Art's 2018 Doc Fortnight and its Los Angeles premiere at the 2018 Pan African Arts + Film Festival –– where it earned the Audience Award for Best Documentary Short. The film was shortlisted for a 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).

His recent films as executive producer include Minding the Gap (2019 Academy Award nominee, Best Documentary Feature), America to Me, Edith+Eddie (2018 Academy Award® nominee for Best Documentary Short), Keep Talking and Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2018 Academy Award® nominee for Best Documentary Feature).

Gordon is a supporter of public and community media, and has served on the boards of several organizations including The Illinois Humanities Council, Chicago Access Network Television, and The Public Square Advisory Committee, The Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. A key leader in creating the Documentary Filmmakers Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use, Gordon encourages filmmakers to educate themselves on the tenets of the fair use doctrine, frequently speaking to the media, legal, and educational communities about this fundamental right.

Gordon has won numerous awards throughout his career, including three Emmy awards. He has been honored by the International Documentary Association (IDA) with their 2015 Career Achievement Award; was the recipient of the Hot Springs Documentary Festival's 2014 Career Achievement Award; was honored with a special tribute at the 2015 Houston Cinema Arts Festival; received CIMMfest’s 2016 BAADASSSSS Award, which honors distinguished careers and lifetime achievement in movies and music; was honored by the 2016 St. Louis International Film Festival's Maysles Brothers Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary.

Films by Gordon Quinn

We Are Witnesses: Chicago 2019
Executive Producer
Eating Up Easter 2018
Executive Producers
America to Me 2018
Executive Producers
Minding the Gap 2018
Executive Producer
Cooked: Survival by Zip Code 2018
Executive Producers
'63 Boycott 2017
A Film by, Directed By, Executive Producers, Camera
Keep Talking 2017
Executive Producers
All The Queen's Horses 2017
Executive Producers
Edith+Eddie 2017
Executive Producer
Stranded by the State 2016
Executive Producers
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail 2016
Executive Producers
Raising Bertie 2016
Executive Producer, Story Consultant
Unbroken Glass 2016
Executive Producer, Consulting Editor
In the Game 2015
Executive Producers
Hard Earned 2015
Executive Producers
The School Project 2014
Executive Producers
The Homestretch 2014
Executive Producers
On Beauty 2014
Executive Producer
Life Itself 2014
Executive Producers
Saving Mes Aynak 2014
Executive Producer
Almost There 2014
Executive Producers
American Arab 2013
Executive Producers, Kartemquin Films Artistic Director
The Trials of Muhammad Ali 2013
Executive Producers
As Goes Janesville 2012
Executive Producers
A Good Man 2011
Directors, Executive Producers, Camera
The Interrupters 2011
Executive Producers
Prisoner of Her Past 2010
A Film by, Director
Sacred Transformations 2010
Executive Producer
No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson 2010
Executive Producer
Typeface 2009
Executive Producer
In the Family 2008
Producer, Executive Producer, Cinematography
At the Death House Door 2008
Executive Producer
Milking the Rhino 2008
Executive Producer
Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita 2007
Executive Producer, Kartemquin Staff
Golub: Late Works Are the Catastrophes 2004
Producers, Directors, Camera
The New Americans 2003
Executive Producers, Palestinian Story Directors/Producers
Stevie 2002
Producers, Executive Producers, Cinematography
Refrigerator Mothers 2002
Co-Producers, Executive Producer, Camera
5 Girls 2001
Executive Producer
Vietnam, Long Time Coming 1998
Producers, Directors, Directors of Photography
Chicago Crossings: Bridges and Boundaries 1994
Production Associates
Hoop Dreams 1994
Executive Producer, Co-Producer
Higher Goals 1992
Executive Producer
Grassroots Chicago 1991
Producers, Camera
Golub 1988
Directors, Camera
Women's Voices: The Gender Gap 1984
Producers, Camera
The Last Pullman Car 1983
Producers and Directors, Writers, Camera
Taylor Chain II: A Story of Collective Bargaining 1983
Director, Camera
Taylor Chain I: A Story in a Union Local 1980
Directors, Camera
The Chicago Maternity Center Story 1976
Made by
HSA Strike '75 1975
Production Associates
UE/Wells 1975
Producers, Directors, Camera
Where's I. W. Abel? 1975
Producers, Director, Editors
Now We Live on Clifton 1974
Winnie Wright, Age 11 1974
Sports-Action Pro-Files 1972
Hum 255 1970
Anonymous Artists of America 1970
Producers, Photography, Editor
Marco 1970
Co-Producers, Cameraman, Editors
What the Fuck Are These Red Squares? 1970
Parents 1968
Co-Producers, Camera
Thumbs Down 1968
Producers, Directors, Camera, Editor
Inquiring Nuns 1968
Directors, Camera, Editor
Home For Life 1966
Producers, Directors, Camera, Editor