Director
Steve James
Produced by
Zak Piper
Steve James
Edited by
David E. Simpson
Steve James
Additional Editor
Alanna Schmelter
Rubin Daniels, Jr.
Assistant Editor
Rubin Daniels, Jr.
Pedro Urgiles
Cinematography by
Jackson James
Steve James
Original music by
Will Miller and Resavoir
Field Producers
Sylvetta Christmas
Fenell Doremus
Janea Smith
Sound Recordist
Zak Piper
Post Production Supervisor
Alanna Schmelter
Executive Producer
Jeff Skoll
Diane Weyermann
Alex Kotlowitz
Gordon Quinn
Betsy Steinberg
Jolene Pinder

Steve James

Steve James' affiliation with Kartemquin began in 1987 with the start of production of Hoop Dreams, for which he served as director, producer, and co-editor. He has since then become one of the most acclaimed documentary makers of his generation, with noted works being Stevie, The New Americans, The War Tapes, At the Death House Door, The Interrupters, Life Itself, and most recently the 2018 Academy Award®-nominated Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.

Zak Piper

Zak is an Emmy and PGA award-winning documentary filmmaker who has made films for over 15 years.

Currently, Zak is producing several feature films: Chicago Story (working title) with producer/director Steve James; Until the Lion Speaks (working title), for Concordia Studio, with co-directors Bing Liu and Joshua Altman; and Generation Food (working title), a film he is also co-directing/producing with Raj Patel and producer Rachel Wexler.

David E. Simpson

David E. Simpson is a documentary filmmaker with three decades of experience. Films he has produced, directed or edited have garnered three national Emmys, a pair of Peabody awards, two DuPont-Columbia batons, an Oscar nomination, a Sundance jury award and best in category at countless festivals. He has worked in close association with Kartemquin Films since 1997.

Alanna Schmelter

Alanna Schmelter is a film & television editor with a concentration in narrative non-fiction & documentary. After graduating with a degree in film editing from Columbia College Chicago, she started her career by cutting comedy at the world-renowned Second City. She has since edited series for National Geographic, Travel Channel, Ovation and A&E.

Pedro Urgiles

Pedro is the Finance Manager at Kartemquin Films. He assists the Director of Finance & Operations in planning and organizing the activities of day-to-day accounting functions. His responsibilities include overseeing accounts payable, accounts receivable, monthly intercompany processes, and payroll. His interest in documentary films stems from watching Spellbound at a young age as he prepared for a citywide spelling bee.

Jackson James

Jackson James has worked as a director and cinematographer on over 55+ music videos primarily based in Chicago. He's worked closely with many of the rising musical acts from Chicago, including Ravyn Lenae, Chance the Rapper, Joey Purp, Twin Peaks, Knox Fortune, Towkio, and others, often featuring a wide variety of neighborhoods and settings around Chicago as the backdrop for each piece.

Sylvetta Christmas

Sylvetta Christmas was born and raised in Chicago. She has extensive hands on experience in film and television that has allowed her to work in various locations abroad. She started as an intern and worked her way through the ranks of production assistant, coordinator, manager, and producer. As a producer she has managed production for some of the top rated cable network programs on VH1, MTV, Oxygen, Bravo, Lifetime and CNBC. Her vast experience in producing docu-series television has given her a broad range of skills that she is excited about bringing to the world of documentary filmmaking.

Fenell Doremus

Filmmaker Associate

Fenell Doremus has worked in documentary film since graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a BA in Sociology. She began her career as an Assistant Editor on the award-winning Hoop Dreams. She went on to serve as staff Producer at Kartemquin Films for the next eight years. While at Kartmequin, Doremus was Segment Producer and a Segment Editor (Palestinian story) of The New Americans.

Janea Smith

From game shows to reality shows and everything in between, Chicago native Janea Smith is a Television Producer and a Consultant who always has a new project up her sleeve.

Alex Kotlowitz

Producer

Alex Kotlowitz is perhaps best known for the bestselling There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America. The book, which was published in 1991 and has since sold over half-a-million copies, was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Helen B. Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Carl Sandburg Award and a Christopher Award. The New York Public Library selected There Are No Children Here as one of the 150 most important books of the century.

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. 

Jolene Pinder

Jolene Pinder is a documentary producer and arts administrator with 15 years of experience in the independent film space. Most recently, she helped launch and served as the inaugural executive director of #CreateLouisiana, a grantmaking and mentorship non-profit designed to champion Louisiana talent in film. Recent grantees supported through #CreateLouisiana have attracted national attention, including 2019 Tribeca multi-award winner Phillip Youmans for his film Burning Cane.