Empathy. Now more than ever.

Dear Friends,

As our 50th year draws to a close we are grateful for your friendship and support. These final days of 2016 have been filled with much reflection and dialogue here at Kartemquin Films–as they have been in communities around the country. In a world seemingly marked by new depths of divisiveness and intolerance, the urgency of our mission has never been clearer.

We must, now more than ever, produce media that spurs meaningful dialogue in support of our democratic process. Creating films that promote justice by championing the voices of those that too often go unheard and unacknowledged remains our core objective, our passion and our responsibility. The great Roger Ebert once described cinema as a "machine that generates empathy," that can "help us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us." I hope you can take a moment to get to know some of the people with whom we've had the privilege to collaborate in our recent work. Thanks to your steadfast support, we are amplifying their voices, striving to reach new levels of understanding and cooperation for our challenging path forward. Voices like:

  • Vivian Saunders, whose tireless belief in the talents and potential of a group of teens growing up in rural poverty is a force for hope in Raising Bertie.
  • Dinesh Sabu, who bravely undertook a deeply personal examination of his own family's traumatic past and the stigma surrounding mental illness in his debut feature, Unbroken Glass.
  • The students and teachers of Oak Park River Forest High School, who give voice to the struggles–and potential–inherent in our shared efforts to address racial and educational inequities with no easy answers in the forthcoming series America To Me.
  • This Giving Tuesday, please join the Kartemquin community in making a commitment to support the future of our work together–please click here to make your donation today!

    As friends of Kartemquin, you know our work goes beyond the films themselves, to filmmaker development programs and public media advocacy. In 2016 the KTQ Internship and Diverse Voices in Docs programs nurtured over 30 promising filmmakers that represent the next generation of talent–the storytellers who will ensure that calls for social justice are loud and incisive enough to cut through messages of bigotry, oppression and division. Just as important, Kartemquin's advocacy work to safeguard public media and defend fair use rights will continue to be fundamental to securing a platform in which these voices can be heard.

    This week marks my first year as part of the passionate, devoted Kartemquin community–and what a year it has been. Though I could have never predicted the climate we find ourselves in today, I am emboldened by the challenges that lay ahead and humbled and honored by your continued support. Please join the artists, storytellers and activists that form the Kartemquin family in renewing your commitment to media that propels us through difficult times and offers hope for a more unified, just and compassionate future.


    Betsy Steinberg
    Executive Director
    Kartemquin Films