Justine Nagan's Mid-Year Letter

Happy summer from our cozy Victorian headquarters on the northside of Chicago.  We are so happy to have air-conditioning.  Despite the heat, our staff and filmmakers are working harder than ever and I felt compelled to check in with you and tell you a bit about all that's going on at Kartemquin.  Last fall as we were celebrating our 45th anniversary, I thought it was going to be a hard year to beat.  Now, almost 6 full months into 2012, we're a buzz with several exciting events and initiatives in the works to share.

While outreach and engagement continue for several of our recent films, including The Interrupters, a handful of exciting new projects approach the finish line including The Trials of Muhammad Ali, On Beauty and American Arab. Watching how much effort, creativity and chutzpah goes into these documentaries over the years makes me incredibly excited about seeing the final product. You should be too. Stay tuned.


In addition to the many great projects Kartemquin is undertaking, we've embarked on some new co-productions with filmmakers outside of Chicago- some in the midwest who are looking for a creative community to join, and some from further afield with Chicago stories to tell.  This is an exciting new model for us, and we're thrilled at the results so far. As Goes Janesville, the first such collaboration, will be premiering at festivals in the coming months, leading up to a national broadcast on Independent Lens on PBS this fall.

In May we had our first annual Spring Showcase of new works at the Gene Siskel Film Center.  The sold out crowd was introduced to four of our films in progress and had the rare opportunity to interface with the filmmakers and give early feedback on their projects.  We can't wait to do it again next year.

We're also excited to announce the date for our annual gala.  We have decided to have a more intimate event than last year's anniversary bash, and are so grateful that one of our board members has generously opened his home to host the party.  Mark Friday night, September 21st on your calendar. It's going to be an amazing night- with all the funds raised going to
continue Kartemquin's efforts to nurture emerging talent and support powerful media making in Chicago.

We're thrilled to announce a new pilot program with the Community Film Workshop, funded by The Joyce Foundation and The Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Diverse Voices in Film project will kick off this fall with a series of workshops, roundtables and screenings- all with the goal of increasing the number of filmmakers of color getting their stories told in Chicago. For more information visit Kartemquin.com or email info@kartemquin.com

With the help of the Smart Growth program (Chicago Community Trust), the Arts Work Fund, Sage Foundation, and several generous individual donors, Kartemquin has been working hard to evaluate and increase its effectiveness and reach over the past two years.  This has resulted in a new strategic plan (2012-2014), an operations audit, a new website (launching in July) and other exciting developments that are building a strong organizational foundation under Kartemquin - allowing it to continue its incredible productivity while being sustainable and forward thinking.  It's a tall order and we welcome your input and support. Please visit kartemquin.com for updates or to make a tax-deductible donation.

We couldn't do any of this without our incredible audience and community of supporters, media makers and friends.  Thanks for all you do.

Stay cool and stay tuned,


(Read the rest of the KTQ newsletter).