Adventures in Chasing Old Documentaries

Documentary production in the United States often appears bicoastal. On the east coast, the documentary corridor seems to run from Boston to Washington, D.C. On the west coast, it seems to run from San Francisco to San Diego. This loose classification has its problems, of course. Documentary powerhouse Kartemquin Films is firmly rooted in Chicago… Read More Adventures in Chasing Old Documentaries

‘Hard Earned’ Shows the Challenges of Making a Living and a Life

Economic stories that focus on numbers — employment rates, job creation rates, wages, and inflation — fail to show the real price, the human costs, of financial realities. Hard Earned, an upcoming documentary series from Kartemquin Films, tells stories about people working to make a living and working to make a life following the economic… Read More ‘Hard Earned’ Shows the Challenges of Making a Living and a Life

‘Hoop Dreams’ News Coverage Suggests a Different Kind of Impact

Popular film titles sometimes work their way into everyday language: Bucket List, Gaslight, Groundhog Day. “Hoop Dreams” is one of those film titles. As part of my background research into Hoop Dreams, I pulled 996 articles mentioning the phrase from all the years available in the Lexis Nexis news database. About half of those stories… Read More ‘Hoop Dreams’ News Coverage Suggests a Different Kind of Impact

Merchandise Extends the ‘Hoop Dreams’ Experience

With every new blockbuster arrives a bevy of branded media, merchandise, and cross-promotions. Soundtracks, television specials, DVDs, and novelizations expand your media collections. Elsa dolls, Batman key chains, and Shrek Twinkies extend your movie experience while they shrink your wallet. Sometimes, you have to wonder if Hollywood will ever let it go. Documentaries for the… Read More Merchandise Extends the ‘Hoop Dreams’ Experience

The Stories Documentary Archives Tell

While watching old documentaries provides an interesting look into nonfiction film history, sometimes the coolest discoveries lurk in dusty cardboard filing boxes. This summer I enjoyed the opportunity to delve into Kartemquin Films‘ archives. Kartemquin has been busy making documentaries for more than 50 years, and with three new titles so far in 2016 alone,… Read More The Stories Documentary Archives Tell

Exhibit Highlights 50 years of Kartemquin Films History

“Kartemquin Films: Democracy through Documentary, 1966-2016” is a retrospective highlighting 50 years of Kartemquin history. The exhibit is available at Expo 72, 72 E. Randolph St., Chicago. I had the chance to check it out when I visited the windy city a couple weeks ago. Centered around themes of craft, community, and change, the curated… Read More Exhibit Highlights 50 years of Kartemquin Films History

Constructing Conversations about Race in ‘Trick Bag’

Kartemquin Films’ Trick Bag: A Black and White Film tackles a tough subject: race issues in 1970s Chicago. Their 1974 short film shows a series of interviews among people across Chicago during the early 1970s. These people, mostly youth, gather at parks, on street corners, and in people’s homes. Race issues dominate these interviews, though… Read More Constructing Conversations about Race in ‘Trick Bag’