Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves – and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community – over the course of a five-year legal battle.
Raising Bertie is an intimate six year portrait of three African American boys growing into adulthood in rural North Carolina, exploring complex relationships between generational poverty, educational inequity, and race.
Hard Earned, a six-part documentary series for Al Jazeera America, puts aside economic debates and follows five families around the country to find out what it takes to get by on eight, ten or even 15 dollars an hour. The series turns an intimate lens on this group of 21st century American dreamers. They fight against all odds to thrive, when it takes everything they have to simply survive.
In The Game is a Kartemquin documentary film directed by Peabody award-winner Maria Finitzo (Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita, 5 Girls) that follows the ups and downs of a girls’ soccer team to reveal the very real obstacles that low-income students confront in their quest for higher education. Set in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, Kelly High School on Chicago’s south side is an inner city public school struggling to provide the basics for their students, many of whom do not make it to college, either because they cannot compete academically or because their families do not have the financial resources to send them to college. The girls face an uneven playing field - or in the case of the girls at Kelly High School, no soccer field at all - little or no support, problems at home, uncertain futures, discrimination, and poverty, but remain undaunted thanks to their teammates and the dedicated mentoring of their coach.
For many, Peter Anton’s house embodies an end-of-life nightmare: the utility companies long ago shut off the heat and electricity, the floorboards are rotting, and the detritus of a chaotic life is precariously stacked to the ceiling. But for the filmmakers Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden, Anton’s home is a treasure trove, a startling collection of unseen and fascinating paintings, drawings, and notebooks, not to mention Anton himself, a character worthy of his own reality TV show. Though aging, infirm, cranky, and solitary, Anton also is funny and utterly resilient. The film’s remarkable journey follows a gifted artist through startling twists and turns. By its quietly satisfying ending, Almost There has provided enough human drama for a season of soap operas, plus insights into mental illness, aging in America, and the redemptive power of art.
Not simply a profile of a painter with a political conscience, but an investigation into the power of the artist to reflect our times and to change the way we think about our world.
With a noted tradition of nurturing emerging talent and acting as a leading voice for independent media, Kartemquin is building on more than 45 years of history as Chicago’s documentary powerhouse.
Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. Guidestar
© 2016 Kartemquin Educational Films
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