"The highest form of non-fiction filmmaking:" Kartemquin NYC Retrospective Begins Today

Starting tonight, the Museum of the Moving Image will host Kartemquin's first ever New York retrospective, featuring 16 films covering each decade of Kartemquin’s 50 years. Get tickets here.

The series has already drawn significant praise from the New York media, with some highlights below:

  • "These movies collectively represent the highest form of non-fiction filmmaking, illuminating with consummate skill a range of true-life stories that, when combined into an event like this, illustrate so much about humanity in all of its forms." - Robert Levin, AM New York.
  • "A champion of the cinéma vérité style, Kartemquin has remained committed to crafting indelible characters out of the social circumstances of their worlds; Quinn, James, and their collaborators have achieved humanizing narrative stakes while also impressing upon their audience the larger systemic fight that remains after the credits roll." - Peter Labuza, Village Voice.
  • "The Chicago-based nonfiction moviemaking collective Kartemquin Films would have left a mark on documentary history with Hoop Dreams alone. But by the time of that 1994 release, Kartemquin had been making films for nearly three decades. This anniversary retrospective shows off the full scope of the organization’s achievements, which in the 1970s often had an activist tinge. (One example is Trick Bag, showing on Saturday with other shorts from the period.) The group’s full catalog paints a vivid cross-section of life in Chicago and beyond." - Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times.

Kartemquin at 50 runs August 19-28, and was programmed by Eric Hynes, the Museum of the Moving Image’s Associate Curator of Film. It begins at 7pm, Friday August 19 with an exclusive screening of the 162 minute Sundance Film Festival cut of The Interrupters (2011). Read new praise for the film this week from Elise Nakhnikian in Brooklyn Magazine. The acclaimed original cut from director Steve James has not been publicly screened in five years since its January 2011 world premiere. James will attend and will also be there for screenings of Hoop Dreams (1994) on Sunday at 2pm, and Stevie (2002) on Sunday at 6:15pm.

Kartemquin co-founder and artistic director Gordon Quinn will also attend for opening weekend, presenting iconic works from Kartemquin’s early years as a radical collective, including Inquiring Nuns (1968), Now We Live on Clifton (1974), and The Chicago Maternity Center Story (1976).

Writing for POV, Tom Roston interviewed Gordon Quinn, who summed up Kartemquin as "Regional filmmakers with an international footprint. We are taking Chicago films and filmmakers to the world," and stated that, "We keep reinventing ourselves to respond to the historical period that we are in. Each film has its own dynamic, its own set of contradictions that it’s resolving, so each film is different from the one that came before it. A Kartemquin film must be true to the story it’s trying to tell."

The closing weekend of the retrospective will feature the New York premiere of Kartemquin’s highly acclaimed new film, Raising Bertie (2016), from director Margaret Byrne, who will attend for the Sunday August 28th screening at 7pm. In a new review for PlaybackSTL, Sarah Boslaugh praises the film for offering "an unusually intimate view of these young men’s lives, telling stories that are often left out in discussions of racism and poverty." Boslaugh also highlights Golub: Late Works Are The Catastrophes (2004), screening on Sunday August 28th at 2pm with producer Judy Hoffman attending, as a "a refreshingly unconventional film that’s not like any art documentary you’ve ever seen, and is far more interesting because of it."

Also featured will be The Trials of Muhammad Ali (2013), A Good Man (2011), and the first public screenings since the 1970s of 3 episodes from Sports Action Pro-Files (1972). There will also be special appearances by Dan Rybicky for Almost There (2014) on Sunday August 28th at 4:30pm.

Get tickets and see the full schedule here and share your thoughts about the films on Facebook.