November 13, 2014 2:06 pm
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
Vietnam, Long Time Coming 1998
Producers, Directors, Sound
Chicago Crossings: Bridges and Boundaries 1994
Grassroots Chicago 1991
Women's Voices: The Gender Gap 1984
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
HSA Hospital Strike '75 1975
Where's I. W. Abel? 1975
Now We Live on Clifton 1974
Winnie Wright, Age 11 1974
Sports-Action Pro-Files 1972
Hum 255 1970
What the Fuck Are These Red Squares? 1970
Home For Life 1966