Jerry Blumenthal, Kartemquin founding partner, has passed away.

It is with great sadness that we announce that Kartemquin founding partner Jerry Blumenthal passed away today.

At the core of Kartemquin since our earliest days in the 1960s, Jerry has a credit on our very first film, Home for Life, and was working with us this year to finish projects on the artist Gerda Bernstein, and Murder the Prepositions, about the poet Les Bridges.

His most recent work was as Editor on Kartemquin's documentary, Prisoner Of Her Past. Blumenthal's previous film, Golub: Late Works are the Catastrophes (2004), co-produced with Gordon Quinn, revisits the great American artist thirteen years after the award-winning Golub (1988) and was a selection at the 2004 IDFA. Vietnam, Long Time Coming (which he made with Quinn, Peter Gilbert and Adam Singer) aired on NBC and earned a national Emmy and the Directors Guild of America Award for Best Documentary of 1999. Among his many other films, Blumenthal lists The Last Pullman Car, the two Taylor Chain films, Now We Live on Clifton, The Chicago Maternity Center Story, and the Palestinian story in Kartemquin's seven-hour IDA award-winning series, The New Americans (2004).

He was a friend, colleague and mentor to so many of us. All of us in the Kartemquin community are mourning his loss today, and will be for many days to come.

Kartemquin co-founder, Gordon Quinn, states: "Jerry was my filmmaking partner for over four decades. His sense of story, people, politics, and art and artists, will be missed. With Kartemquin we went through good times and bad, but with Jerry we always found time to laugh."

Details on his memorial and a full obituary are forthcoming.

In memory of Jerry, we are releasing this recording from 2008 of him discussing his career and filmmaking philosophy as part of a Kartemquin intern workshop. Some selected quotes are below.

(On joining Kartemquin)
“They said to me, 'Why don’t you forget becoming an old fart film professor, and come to work with us and be an impoverished, young, exciting, documentary filmmaker?' And the choice was easy.”

"I would say probably the Golub film is my favorite film, and the film that, in a way, I poured more of myself into, both from a creative and personal point of view. It's a film that broke a lot of ground for Kartemquin in that, although it's got a subject that is very political, on the one hand, it's also a film that is without any kind of shame or embarrassment in the effort of making it artistic. That kind of creative and artistic shaping of the material was very much a part of the political subject."

(On balancing freelance work with Kartemquin's documentaries)
"The more you can unify your universe the better you are. Part of the attraction for me, in doing commercial work... I was a sound recordist, I was a sound mixer. I would go to these locations... and I didn't make that much money, but it was fine. I made enough money, and I got to read all my leftist journals, waiting between takes! it didn't use any of my brain. It left all of my brain intact for doing what I wanted to do."

Films by Jerry Blumenthal
A Good Man 2011
Production Support for Kartemquin Films

Prisoner of Her Past 2010

Golub: Late Works Are the Catastrophes 2004
Producers, Directors, Editor

The New Americans 2004
Palestinian Story Directors/Producers

5 Girls 2001
Co-Executive Producer

Vietnam, Long Time Coming 1998
Producers, Directors, Sound

Chicago Crossings: Bridges and Boundaries 1994
Production Associates

Grassroots Chicago 1991

Golub 1988
Directors, Editor

Women's Voices: The Gender Gap 1984
Sound, Editor

The Last Pullman Car 1983
Producers and Directors, Writers, Sound

Taylor Chain II: A Story of Collective Bargaining 1983
Director, Editor, Sound

Taylor Chain I: A Story in a Union Local 1980
Directors, Sound, Editor

The Chicago Maternity Center Story 1976
Made by

UE/Wells 1975
Producers, Directors

HSA Hospital Strike '75 1975
Production Associates

Where's I. W. Abel? 1975

Now We Live on Clifton 1974

Winnie Wright, Age 11 1974

Sports-Action Pro-Files 1972
Editor, Sound

Hum 255 1970

What the Fuck Are These Red Squares? 1970
Sound, Editing

Marco 1970
Assistant Editor

Home For Life 1966
Additional Help

Shulie 1966

Related films: 
In 1998, World T.E.A.M. (The Exceptional Athlete Matters) Sports organized a 16-day, 1100 mile bicycle expedition through once war-torn Northern and Southern Vietnam, drawing an array of veterans from the U.S. and Vietnam, as well as celebrity riders like Greg La Monde and Senator John Kerry.
Prisoner of Her Past tells the haunting story of a secret childhood trauma resurfacing, sixty years later, to unravel the life of Holocaust survivor Sonia Reich. The film follows her son, Chicago Tribune jazz critic Howard Reich, as he journeys across the United States and Eastern Europe to uncover why his mother believes the world is conspiring to kill her. Along the way, he finds a family he never knew he had. Howard also finds psychiatrists in New Orleans helping traumatized children who survived Hurricane Katrina, so they will not re-experience their childhood terrors as his mother now does.
In 1981-2, the Kartemquin filmmakers returned to the Taylor Chain plant to show labor and management working together against the odds, trying to save the plant from becoming the latest victim of anti-union legislation and the globalization of cheap, exploitable labor.
Four years in the lives of a diverse group of contemporary immigrants and refugees as they journey to start new lives in America.
Home for Life depicts the experiences of two elderly people in their first month at a home for the aged.
For more than 75 years, the Chicago Maternity Center provided safe home deliveries for Chicago mothers. This film interweaves the history of the center with the stories of a young woman about to have her first baby and the center's fight to stay open in the face of the corporate takeover of medicine.
In 1968, striking students at the University of Chicago occupied an administration building. A year later, two expelled young women were asked by their former classmates to talk about the experience as a class project. The women confront the students about their convictions and how far they are willing to go to defend their values.
In 1972, Kartemquin Films co-produced and edited Sports Action Pro-Files for broadcast on NBC. These 20-minute profiles of the country's most exciting sports talent captured coaches, managers and athletes at the apex of their careers. Cinematographers included Gordon Quinn and Mike Shea, and the editor on the project was Jerry Blumenthal:
Kartemquin Films completes its chronicle of the work and times of the American artist, Leon Golub, taking us from searing images of interrogations and torture to the ironies and dark humor of old-age.
For two years, filmmaker Maria Finitzo followed five strong young women between the ages of 13 and 17, exploring the ways these girls discover the resources necessary to successfully navigate the rocky waters of adolescence.
A documentary about neighborhood people creating change. Produced for the MacArthur Foundation by Kartemquin Films, this piece features six vignettes on community organizing in different Chicago neighborhoods: LeClaire Courts, Marquette Park, Roseland, Pilsen, Uptown, Rogers Park, and Garfield Park.
Now We Live on Clifton follows 10 year old Pam Taylor and her 12 year old brother Scott around their multiracial West Lincoln Park neighborhood. The kids worry that they'll be forced out of the neighborhood they grew up in by the gentrification following the expansion of DePaul University.
Winnie, the daughter of a steel worker and a teacher, lives in Gage Park, a Chicago neighborhood that is changing from white to black. Her family struggles with racism, inflation and a threatened strike, as Winnie learns what it means to grow up white, working class, and female.
UE/Wells follows an organizing drive by the United Electrical Workers Union at the Wells Foundry in Chicago. The multi-ethnic work force of Polish, Arab, Jewish, Hispanic and African American men and women unite together despite the company's efforts to use race as a wedge to divide them.
Made by Kartemquin and a rank-and-file steel workers caucus, the film documents the opposition of the rank-and-file to the no-strike agreement between Steelworkers President I.W. Abel and the ten major steel companies, made without a vote by the membership of the union.
A union of interns and residents at Chicago's only public hospital are forced to strike for better patient care. This film documents their eighteen-day strike.