Announcing the Diverse Voices Accelerator Fund and Emerging Storyteller Fund Grantees

Kartemquin Films today announced the 12 documentary projects that will receive Diverse Voices Accelerator Fund and Emerging Storyteller Fund grants.

Kartemquin will celebrate the grantees and provide previews of select works-in-progress that received the funding at the organization’s 2nd annual Empowering Truth Benefit Luncheon on October 29 at The Standard Club in Chicago, IL.

“This slate of grantees comprises an exciting array of cinematic styles and distinctive directorial perspectives, all sharing an alignment with Kartemquin’s mission of supporting independent filmmakers utilizing the documentary form to deepen our understanding of society through everyday human drama,” said Jolene Pinder, Kartemquin Executive Director.

Both grants are designed to provide funding towards emerging filmmakers who are currently enrolled or who have previously participated in Kartemquin’s filmmaker development programs (KTQ Internship, KTQ Labs, Diverse Voices in Docs), or who are currently engaged in co-productions with Kartemquin. The Diverse Voices Accelerator Fund provides grants specifically to current or former participants in the Diverse Voices in Docs (DVID) fellowship, a nine-month professional mentorship program for Midwestern documentary filmmakers of color that is now accepting applications for the 2020 fellowship.

Kartemquin has a five-decade history of developing and guiding emerging midwestern nonfiction talent, and this is their third year of directly providing granting support. Previous recipients include Minding the Gap,  directed by Bing Liu; Edith+Eddie, directed by Laura Checkoway; Finding Yingying, directed by Jiayan “Jenny” Shi; and Eating up Easter, directed by Sergio M. Rapu.

The Diverse Voices Accelerator Fund and Emerging Storyteller Fund are made possible by the Sage Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


Directed by Erika Valenciana (Diverse Voices in Docs); produced by Anuradha Rana (KTQ Labs, Diverse Voices in Docs)
Brewer is a short poetic documentary that highlights women in brewing and normalizes their presence in a male dominated space.

Hayden and Her Family
Directed and produced by May Tchao (KTQ Labs)
What drives a couple to adopt five special needs children from overseas – when they already have seven biological children?

Head to Head
Directed by Andrea Alberti (KTQ Labs); produced by Katy Osborn (KTQ Labs)
After unexpectedly losing their hair, five Midwestern women experience a traumatic blow to their self-image and search for ways to restore their mental health, relationships, and social life. Partly as a way to fit into society, these women take financial gambles on wigs, many of which are made from—or falsely marketed as—sacrificial human hair from South India, also known as ‘black gold’.

La Bonga
Directed by Sebastián Pinzón-Silva (KTQ Internship, Diverse Voices in Docs); produced by Gabriella Garcia-Pardo
Nearly twenty years after fleeing the violence of civil war, a displaced community embarks on a symbolic journey through the jungles of northern Colombia to resurrect a home that exists only in their memory.

Last Call
Directed and produced by Ankur Singh (KTQ Internship) and Cai Thomas (Diverse Voices in Docs)
Last Call is a short documentary series that follows three families across Chicago as they are forced to close down their local businesses that have been open for generations. The series captures communities grappling with losing a place they consider home as large economic and political forces reshape the city’s unique 77 neighborhoods.

First Vote
Directed and produced by Yi Chen (KTQ Labs)
A soon-to-be first-time voter, the filmmaker's two-year journey into the Rust Belt and South captures ardent first-time Chinese immigrant voters' experimentation with newfound democracy in America.

The Sebastopol Siege
Directed and produced by Mimi Wilcox (KTQ Internship, KTQ Labs)
On the night of March 2nd, 1973, Michaela Madden, a recently widowed mother of 5, was held hostage for 8 hours in her rural California home­ — and subsequently vilified by her community. When her family revisits the story forty-five years later, the powers of human compassion and police aggression come into conflict in a larger exploration of family mythology and trauma. 

Teaching About Religion
Directed and produced by Allison Walsh (KTQ Internship)
In a midwestern suburban high school, students take a World Religion class that challenges their assumptions about religion, culture, and society.


Alive in Detroit
Directed and produced by Shiraz Ahmed (Diverse Voices in Docs)
A young journalist searches to understand how his uninsured mother received a free heart surgery, but instead learns a deeper lesson about the social compact that undergirds our safety net from a doctor, a pastor and a patient in a city forgotten by industry and government.

The Mask that Grins and Lies
Directed by Martine Granby (Diverse Voices in Docs); produced by Meggie Cramer
The Mask that Grins and Lies is a meditative documentary feature that uncovers the intergenerational silence shrouding black women’s mental illness; told through the lens of filmmaker and subject, Martine Granby. By untying generations of knots that have bound the women in her family to the stigma of mental illness, Martine admits that she was never taught the tools to cope. With their stories in the open, she examines how they move forward.

On the Move
Directed by Milton Guillén (Diverse Voices in Docs)
Filmmaker Milton Guillén follows three visual artists in exile, himself included, as they utilize poetry, therapy sessions and dreams to remain emotionally connected to their destroyed home countries to cope with the emotional effects of forced migration.

Teaching While Black
Directed by Latesha Dickerson (Diverse Voices in Docs)
Like many cities across the country, Chicago’s public schools grow increasingly diverse; yet the number of Black teachers is dwindling. Through the intimate stories of four teachers, Teaching While Black explores the obstacles Black teachers face as they try to land and maintain jobs in an educational system plagued by underfunding, discrimination, and school closures.