'The Interrupters'
‘The Interrupters’

Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NYC, will present Kartemquin at 50, a major retrospective devoted to the not-for-profit documentary collective Kartemquin Films, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

With a mission of producing films “as a vehicle to deepen our understanding of society through everyday human drama,” the company has made more than 50 films portraying the United States through the eyes of its workers, students, activists, artists, strivers, and ordinary people.

From August 19 through 28, the Museum will screen sixteen films produced by Kartemquin, including the much-acclaimed “Hoop Dreams” and “The Interrupters,” and the New York premiere of the new film “Raising Bertie,” among other key works that have captured a diverse, changing American society, touching upon the most important social issues of the past 50 years.

Associate Film Curator Eric Hynes, who organized the retrospective, said, “Seen as a whole, the Kartemquin catalogue offers nothing less than a living cultural and political history of the U.S. over the past half-century. Yet what makes each of these films so extraordinary, and so worthy of continued discovery, is how localized, personalized, and human-sized they are. Whether it’s a day in the life of a kid in gentrifying Chicago in the 1970s or the struggles of an outsider artist in Indiana, these are films that offer clear and inviting paths toward empathizing with and marveling at our fellow citizens. It will be an honor and thrill to share them with our audience in New York.”


Kartemquin at 50 will kick-off with an exclusive screening of the 162-minute Sundance Film Festival cut of “The Interrupters,” about the brave, committed individuals working to stop street violence in Chicago. This acclaimed original cut has not been publicly screened since its January 2011 world premiere, the same year it was named Best Documentary in the Village Voice and Indiewire critics’ polls, as well as at The Independent Spirit and Cinema Eye awards. Director Steve James will attend the opening weekend screenings of his films, which include his classics “Hoop Dreams” (1994) and “Stevie” (2002).

Kartemquin Co-Founder and Artistic Director Gordon Quinn, winner of the 2015 IDA Career Achievement Award for his services to documentary film, will also attend for several screenings across both weekends, presenting iconic works from Kartemquin’s early years as a radical left-wing collective, including “Inquiring Nuns” (1968), “Now We Live on Clifton” (1974), “Marco” (1970), and “The Chicago Maternity Center Story” (1976).

'Raising Bertie'
‘Raising Bertie’

The closing weekend of the retrospective will feature the New York premiere of Kartemquin’s highly acclaimed new film, “Raising Bertie” (2016), a multi-year study of three boys growing up in rural North Carolina, from director Margaret Byrne, who will attend.

Also featured will be “The Trials of Muhammad Ali” (2013), Bill Siegel’s Emmy-winning portrait of the late legend’s fight against the U.S. government; “A Good Man” (2011), Gordon Quinn and Bob Hercules’s portrait of legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones; “Golub: Late Works Are the Catastrophes” (2004), on the life and work of artist Leon Golub, with producer Judy Hoffman attending; and the first public screenings since the 1970s of “Sports Action Pro-Files” (1972), a twenty-episode series made for NBC, with episodes on Billie Jean King, Jim Plunkett, and Al McGuire.


“This retrospective featuring Kartemquin’s earliest works, many of which have never screened in New York before, as well as premiering our most recent, Raising Bertie, will highlight the timelessness of our in-depth, personal storytelling style. Watching these films with Steve, Gordon, and Margaret there to share their perspectives will make this a remarkable cinematic experience,” said Betsy Steinberg, Executive Director of Kartemquin Films.

The full schedule is included below and posted online at movingimage.us/kartemquin. Join the conversation by using #ktq50.


All screenings take place in the Sumner M. Redstone Theater or Celeste and Armand Bartos Screening Room at Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35 Avenue in Astoria, New York. Tickets are $12 ($9 seniors and students / $7 youth ages 3–16 / free for Museum members at the Film Lover and Kids Premium levels, free for Silver Screen members and above). Advance tickets are available online at http://movingimage.us. Ticket purchase includes same-day admission to the Museum’s galleries.

The Interrupters
With director Steve James in person
FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 7:00 P.M.
Dir. Steve James. 2011, 162 mins. Digital projection (Original cut). This collaboration between director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and author Alex Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here) is a towering achievement in both reportage and cinema. It tells the amazing stories of three former street criminals who attempt to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once harbored and helped to perpetrate. Following the “Violence Interrupters” Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams, and Eddie Bocanegra into areas of percolating tensions and erupting conflict, the viewer is given an eyewitness look at the stubborn persistence of violence in our cities, and at the impassioned, charismatic people who are putting their lives on the line in order to make a difference.

Inquiring Nuns / Parents
With Gordon Quinn, founder and Artistic Director of Kartemquin Films
Inquiring Nuns. Dir. Gordon Quinn. 1968, 66 mins. Digital projection. In one of the earliest documentaries by Kartemquin Films, two outgoing Catholic nuns, Sister Marie Arne and Sister Mary Campion, walk around Chicago asking just one question: “Are you happy?” The answers they get are by turns reasoned, spiritual, and even philosophical, but a recurring motif is a prevailing anxiety over the Vietnam War. The sisters’ warmth and interest are reciprocated by their subjects, most of whom show concern for others and little regard for their moment in the spotlight.
Parents. Dirs. Gordon Quinn, Gerald Temaner. 1968, 22 mins. Digital projection. Members of a parish youth group in a lower middle-class Chicago neighborhood gather together to discuss the pressing concerns of their lives: what adolescence means, the specter of authority, and the difficulties of communicating with their parents. In this unvarnished cinéma vérité account, these young people collectively offer a 1960s viewpoint different from that of their more prosperous or radical counterparts.

Trick Bag / Winnie Wright, Age 11 / Now We Live on Clifton
With Gordon Quinn, founder and Artistic Director of Kartemquin Films

Trick Bag. Dir. The Kartemquin Collective. 1974, 21 mins. 16mm. Gang members, Vietnam vets, and young factory workers from Chicago’s neighborhoods tell of their personal experience with racism, candidly calling out who gets hurt and who profits.
Winnie Wright, Age 11. Dir. Gordon Quinn. 1974, 26 mins. 16mm. Winnie, the daughter of a steelworker and a teacher, is growing up in the Chicago neighborhood Gage Park during a time of demographic change. While her family struggles with racism, inflation, and a threatened strike, Winnie learns what it means to grow up white, working class, and female.
Now We Live on Clifton. Dir. Jerry Blumenthal. 1974, 26 mins. 16mm. Ten-year-old Pam Taylor and her twelve-year-old brother Scott knock around their multiracial neighborhood West Lincoln Park, Chicago, and worry over changes coming due to the recent expansion of DePaul University, and if they’ll be forced out of their neighborhood due to the effects of gentrification.

Marco / The Chicago Maternity Center Story
With Gordon Quinn, founder and Artistic Director of Kartemquin Films
Marco. Dir. Gordon Quinn. 1970, 80 mins. Digital projection. Described

as a “luminous, joyous human document” by Roger Ebert, Marco captures the challenges faced by a woman who decides to give birth without pain medication. This candid and sensitive work of cinema vérité follows the woman and her husband as they learn about natural childbirth, discuss their plans with friends and medical staff, and experience the labor and subsequent birth of their child.
The Chicago Maternity Center Story. Dir. Jerry Blumenthal. 1976, 60 mins. Digital projection. For more than 75 years, the Chicago Maternity Center provided safe deliveries outside of the hospital setting, but is forced to close in light of modern medicine’s changing attitude toward home birth and a lack of resources caused by those changes. This film interweaves the history of the center with the story of a young woman about to have her first baby, as the center fights to stay open despite declining funds.

Hoop Dreams
With director Steve James in person
SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 2:00 P.M.
Dir. Steve James. 1994, 170 mins. DCP. Called “the great American documentary” by Roger Ebert, and routinely listed among the all-time great films, Hoop Dreams is an intimate epic that follows two talented young men over six life-shaping years. William Gates and Arthur Agee are African-American high school students from inner-city Chicago recruited into a predominately white rural school with an excellent basketball team. They commute 90 minutes to school, where they struggle to adapt to the new social environment and shoulder expectations of family and friends back home.

With director Steve James in person
SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 6:15 P.M.
Dir. Steve James. 2002, 140 mins. Digital projection. In 1995, Steve James returned to Southern Illinois to reconnect with Stevie Fielding, for whom the filmmaker once served as an advocate Big Brother. He finds that the once difficult, awkward child has turned into an angry and troubled young man. Partway through filming, Stevie is arrested and charged with a serious crime. What was intended as a modest profile turns into a bracingly intimate four year chronicle of Stevie, his broken family, the criminal justice system, and the filmmaker himself, as they all struggle to come to terms with what Stevie has done and who he has become.

Sports Action Pro-Files
SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, 1:00 P.M.
Dir. Gordon Quinn. 1972. Digital projection. Program duration: 60 mins. Co-produced and edited by Kartemquin Films, Sports Action Pro-Files consist of various profiles of the country’s most talented athletes and sports professionals. Beautifully crafted and startlingly insightful, these twenty minute gems provide a vantage on famous figures that’s unthinkable in today’s micro-managed, image-crafted celebrity culture. Among those featured in the series include Billie Jean King, Jim Plunkett, and Al McGuire.

A Good Man
Dirs. Bob Hercules, Gordon Quinn. 2011, 86 mins. Digital projection. To salute Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial, Tony Award-winning dance choreographer Bill T. Jones mounts an ambitious dance-theatre piece called “Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray.” A Good Man details Jones’s personal struggles with race and how he comes to grips with the legacy of the Lincoln Presidency and the American Civil War. From early pre-production to the show’s final performance, we follow Jones as he attempts to convey the spirit of the civil rights movement, and how it has inspired him as an artist, to both his collaborators and the audience.

The Trials of Muhammad Ali
Dir. Bill Siegel. 2013, 86 mins. Digital projection. A look at the legendary, inspiring and controversial boxer’s life outside of the ring, from joining the Nation of Islam and changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, to his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War and his ongoing global humanitarian work. Outspoken and passionate in his beliefs, Ali found himself at the center of America’s controversies over race, religion, and war. The Trials of Muhammad Ali examines how one of the most celebrated sports champions of the twentieth century risked his fame and fortune to follow his faith and conscience.

Golub: Late Works Are the Catastrophes
With director Gordon Quinn and producer Judy Hoffman in person
SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, 2:30 P.M.
Dirs. Jerry Blumenthal, Gordon Quinn. 2004, 80 mins. Digital projection. Begun in 1985, and completed nearly twenty years later, this documentary chronicles the life and work of artist Leon Golub. Though known for violent, often controversial paintings depicting scenes of torture and physical trauma, Golub’s later work becomes surprisingly less graphic. “My work these days is sort of political, sort of metaphysical, and sort of smart-ass. I’m playful and hostile. Let’s see if you can keep up with my slipping around,” he tells the filmmakers. A unique and candid cinematic document, Golub captures an historic artistic journey shared with Leon’s wife and studio partner of 50 years, the prominent anti-war and feminist artist, Nancy Spero. “Virtually perfect, conveying the exhilarating sense that art is inseparable from the world that engenders it and the world that receives it.”—Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Almost There
With co-director Dan Rybicky in person
SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, 4:30 P.M.
Dirs. Aaron Wickenden, Dan Rybicky. 2014, 93 mins. Digital projection. For many, Peter Anton’s house embodies an end-of-life nightmare: with no heat and electricity, rotting floorboards, and the detritus of a chaotic life 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 the aging, infirm, and endearingly cranky Anton himself, a character worthy of his own reality TV show. The film’s remarkable journey follows the talented but troubled artist through startling twists and turns, providing enough human drama for a season of soap operas.

Raising Bertie
With director Margaret Byrne and director of photography Jon Stuyvesant in person
SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, 7:00 P.M.
Dir. Margaret Byrne. 2016, 102 mins. Digital projection. Rural education is the next frontier in American school reform. One-in-four students attend school in a rural community and two out of every five of these students live in poverty. In Raising Bertie, three African American boys come of age in rural Bertie County North Carolina, challenged by poverty and a lack of educational and economic opportunities. An intimate portrayal of the transition from boyhood into adult lives, this raw and starkly poetic film challenges us to see the value in lives too often ignored.