Gordon Quinn: Chicago's #1 Screen Gem

New City has placed Kartemquin's co-founder and Artistic Director Gordon Quinn at #1 in listing their Film 50: Chicago Screen Gems.

Kartemquin's Executive Director Justine Nagan is listed at #15, and our veteran filmmaker Steve James is at #5.

New City writer Ray Pride describes the list as celebrating "those who have found ways to continue their practice, exert their personalities and offer a few examples, both young and long-lived, for the world in ways that are impeccably Chicagoan: rough and ready, come what may." We are deeply honored to be recognized in this way, alongside many of our local colleagues and collaborators who work enthusiastically to ensure the success of Chicago's film community.

Gordon notes that "Kartemquin’s focus has always been about the storytelling. If someone asks me what camera I used I sometimes say, ‘that is the wrong question.’ The question is not, ‘Did you shoot your movie on an iPhone, but rather, how did you use the iPhone to tell your story?’ When the Sun-Times fired all its photographers, they seemed not to understand what it is that photographers do: it’s not knowing how to use the technology, it’s knowing how to take a picture that means something.”

Steve James is praised as "one of Chicago’s treasures," making films that are "astutely framed, edited with quiet assurance, bestowing dignity on his subjects... [with] focus on his characters first and foremost."

Since the successful transition to Justine Nagan's leadership in 2008, her strategic planning has led to us developing our programs designed to nurture documentary makers in Chicago, and a slate of films that New City claims "a Hollywood studio would have a hard time matching."

Our steady growth will be dramatically apparent over the next year, when we plan to release in theaters and/or broadcast on TV a minimum of 7 new films: The Trials of Muhammad Ali (currently on release); American Arab (due to premiere in late 2013); The Homestretch (due to premiere in early 2014); Almost There (due to premiere in early 2014); Life Itself (due to premiere in early 2014); '63 Boycott (due to premiere in early 2014); Cooked (due to premiere in early 2014); and several other in-progress projects - including one we can't yet announce - that will also be complete in late 2014 or early 2015!

As Gordon states: “It has always been hard. But under Justine Nagan’s leadership, we are more successful than ever, but yes, it is still very hard. Yes, the marketplace is changing and we have to change with it. Not to give the market ‘what it wants,’ but to continually reinvent ourselves to play a role in the dialectical process we call democracy.”

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