Kartemquin and Freep Film Festival Partner on Midwest Documentary Filmmaker Sustainability Conversation

We're excited to share that Kartemquin Films is partnering with Freep Film Festival, held April 10-14 in Detroit, to host a conversation on filmmaker sustainability and a special rough cut lab. Both events bring to Detroit for the first time initiatives and expertise Kartemquin has pioneered as part of its acclaimed filmmaker development programs and advocacy on behalf of the documentary field.

The Sustainability Conversation builds on the “Heartlandia” filmmaker sustainability convening held at the 2018 True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri, and is part of a multi-year commitment from Kartemquin to engage Midwest documentary makers, media arts organizations, funding and distribution partners in dialogue and solutions-oriented planning around sustainability challenges facing the field. Detroit-based organizations that will be participating in the conversation include Wayne State University, Reel Clever Films, Final Girls and Michigan Film and Digital Media Office. The International Documentary Association (IDA) will also be represented.

Kartemquin’s KTQ Labs, in which filmmakers bring rough cuts for free critique by Kartemquin’s staff and associates, has helped over 150 projects progress towards completion, with projects going on to premiere at Sundance Film Festival and SXSW, and broadcast on Netflix and PBS. A film in this year’s Freep Festival - Midnight Family - is a graduate of the program. Other documentaries that have benefited from the program include Making a Murderer, The Prison in 12 Landscapes and The Blood is at the Doorstep. Freep has also programmed four Kartemquin projects at the festival, including the Michigan premieres of new film Cooked, a searing investigation into the politics of disaster preparedness and poverty from Peabody Award-winning director Judith Helfand, and the classic 1968 film Inquiring Nuns, from Kartemquin founders Gerald Temaner and Gordon Quinn, in which two nuns ask people on the street, “Are you happy?”

Quinn and Helfand will attend the festival along with several Kartemquin staff in support of these screenings and events, plus special free education-focused presentations of 2019 Best Documentary Oscar nominee Minding the Gap, directed by Bing Liu, and two episodes of America to Me, a 10-part series examining racial equity inside a high school that was the best-reviewed TV series of 2018 when it debuted on Starz.

“We’re grateful to Freep for giving us this opportunity to share our films and programs with audiences and other documentary makers in Michigan,” said Gordon Quinn, Artistic Director of Kartemquin Films. “We have long held a commitment to supporting filmmaking and collective activism in our region, and the activities we’ll be hosting both align with that tradition and our hope to provide resources and inspiration to emerging sustainability movements and filmmaking organizations across the Midwest.”

“Freep Film Festival has long admired Kartemquin’s amazing documentary work and their impact on the Midwest filmmaking community,” said Kathy Kieliszewski, Artistic Director of Freep Film Festival. “For Kartemquin to bring its esteemed team and decades of expertise to Detroit is a real coup for Freep Film Festival and local filmmakers.”


Friday, April 12 4:00pm | Cinema Detroit: Cooked (2018)

  • In Q&A: director/producer Judith Helfand; producer Fenell Doremus
  • Peabody Award winning filmmaker Judith Helfand takes audiences from the deadly 1995 Chicago heat disaster deep into one of our nation’s biggest growth industries – Disaster Preparedness. Along the way she forges inextricable links between extreme weather, extreme disparity and the politics of “disaster”; daring to ask: What if a zip code was just a routing number, and not a life-or-death sentence? Inspired by Eric Klinenberg’s ground-breaking book HEAT WAVE: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago.

    Saturday, April 13 12:00pm | Patriot Theater at the War Memorial: America To Me (2018)

    Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) examines racial, economic and class issues in contemporary American education in the ten-part unscripted documentary series America to Me. Poignant and funny, epic and intimate, America to Me spends an academic year at Chicagoland's elite Oak Park and River Forest High School (OPRF), allowing its students, families, faculty and administration to tell stories of the pressures and challenges teens face today in their own words.

    Saturday, April 13 12:00PM | Detroit Free Press: KTQ Labs: America You Kill Me

    A feature documentary about gay rights warrior Jeffrey Montgomery, and the ongoing struggle for equality in the midwest. The film is directed and edited by Daniel Land and produced by John Montgomery.
    Kartemquin’s KTQ Labs program brings filmmakers together to offer free critique of works-in-progress. Filmmaker badge holders and invitees only.

    Saturday, April 13 4:00PM-7:00PM | Detroit Free Press: Filmmaker Sustainability Conversation

    Members of the Michigan documentary community are invited to join the national conversation on building a more sustainable ecosystem for professionals in the documentary industry. Attendees will identify tangible strategies to strengthen existing infrastructure in our state and in the region, building from the model and toolkit established at the 2018 Heartlandia Convening. Through panel discussions and small group dialogue, the summit will focus on strategies that are regionally-focused and driven by collaborative efforts between media makers, arts service organizations, funders and distribution partners.
    Filmmaker badge holders and invitees only.

    Saturday, April 13 5:30pm | Wayne State University: Minding the Gap (2018)

    2019 Academy Award nominee. Compiling over 12 years of footage shot in his hometown of Rockford, IL, in Minding the Gap, Bing Liu searches for correlations between his skateboarder friends’ turbulent upbringings and the complexities of modern-day masculinity. Liu weaves a story of generational forgiveness while exploring the precarious gap between childhood and adulthood. The film is produced by Liu and Diane Quon, and edited by Liu and Joshua Altman.

    Sunday, April 14 1:30PM | Detroit Historical Museum: Inquiring Nuns (1968)

  • In Q&A: director/producer Gordon Quinn
  • Newly restored 16mm print (courtesy of the National Film Preservation Fund). In the politically fraught climate of Chicago in 1968, two young nuns crisscross the city in order to ask strangers the question, "Are you happy?" A beloved by rarely seen gem of pure cinema verite, Inquiring Nuns is the second-ever film by Kartemquin Films, the legendary Chicago production collective begun in 1966. The films is a distinctly American response to the pioneering French documentary Chronicle of a Summer (1960), and co-directed by Kartemquin founders Gordon Quinn and Jerry Temaner.

    Read more about the events in the Detroit Free Press.