Filmmaker Development Programs

Kartemquin’s filmmaker development programs are the entry point for many into our community and the backbone of our organization. Our programs serve over 50 filmmakers annually and have cultivated a network of 500+ alumni. The organization is a committed advocate for the sustainability of the documentary field.

Support for Kartemquin’s Filmmaker Development Programs in 2020 comes from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Journalism and Media program, the Reva & David Logan Foundation, The Field Foundation, the Voqal Fund, the Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts,, Prince Charitable Trusts, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.


The Peng Zhao and Cherry Chen Fund for AAPI Voices

The Peng Zhao and Cherry Chen Fund for AAPI Voices will invest funds and critical support in AAPI-identifying filmmakers making documentary films that center AAPI voices and stories that deepen their audiences’ understanding of the complexity and diversity of the AAPI communities in the US.

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Diverse Voices in Docs

Diverse Voices in Docs is a professional development and mentorship program for documentary filmmakers of color, organized by Kartemquin Films and the Community Film Workshop of Chicago. The program hones skills as filmmakers develop projects, sharing experiences and expertise over the course of nine monthly workshops. Fellows become eligible for grant funds upon graduation. Graduates have gone on to receive funding from Sundance and ITVS, and had their work receive awards at major film festivals and be distributed on PBS, Netflix, and Hulu.

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Kartemquin / Hulu Accelerator

Combining Kartemquin’s expertise in nurturing emerging, diverse midwest-based filmmakers and projects with Hulu’s groundbreaking support of original documentaries, the Hulu/Kartemquin Accelerator program will offer an unprecedented opportunity for alumni of Kartemquin’s acclaimed Filmmaker Development Programs.

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Chicago DCASE: Chicago Forward

KTQ’s Chicago Forward grantees will receive funding to produce a demo-like piece (collection of scenes, extended trailer, etc) exploring broad themes emerging from the pandemic and renewed reckoning with racial injustice in Chicago’s communities. KTQ will award grants for makers advancing a short or feature documentary, with decisions made by a panel of diverse Chicago filmmakers. The initiative will pair grantees with dedicated mentors to provide guidance in the full year of their grant term and culminate in 8 community-centered events.

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As Kartemquin works through its theory of change process, we are asking ourselves how we want to move into our future. During this process, a number of KTQ programs will be on hiatus as we move with intention to better serve our present and future filmmaking community in accordance with KTQ’s values of inclusion, integrity and collaboration


Educational workshops with our staff and award-winning producers form the core of our acclaimed internship. Interns are recognized as essential members of our team and are quickly immersed in all aspects of the organization. Each internship term is unique based on the needs and stage of production our current films are in,  and contains a range of activities across development, production, and distribution, as well as the day-to-day of making our not-for-profit media arts organization run.

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KTQ Labs

A free monthly service at which filmmakers present their demos and rough cuts to the Kartemquin community in return for constructive critique. The KTQ Labs program has helped improve over 100 projects in the past decade. Notable titles that have been through our process include Making a Murderer; Quest; Louder Than a Bomb; What’s the Matter With Kansas?; The Prison in 12 Landscapes; Shot in the Dark; Scrappers; ¡Las Sandinistas!; Andrew Bird: Fever Year; and The Blood is at the Doorstep.

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