Kartemquin Aims To Re-Ignite ’63 Protest
April 5, 2013 by Screenmag
Chicago's Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams) will launch www.63boycott.com as part of '63 Boycott, a cross-platform, web driven project designed to connect with participants in the historic 1963 Chicago Public School Boycott and engage the public in the importance of this history when considering the issues the city's public education system faces today. The website will help find the subjects for a documentary film destined for PBS, and evolve into a platform for those who participated in the boycott 50 years ago and those struggling for equal education today. The project is directed by Gordon Quinn (A Good Man, Prisoner of Her Past) and produced by Quinn and Zak Piper (The Interrupters).
The filmmakers hope to use the website to locate people who participated in the massive civil rights demonstration on October 22nd, 1963, known as "Freedom Day", where more than 200,000 Chicagoans, mostly Chicago Public Schools students, marched to protest the segregationist policies of CPS Superintendent Benjamin Willis, who placed aluminum mobile school units (trailers) on playgrounds and parking lots as a permanent solution to overcrowding in black schools. This project marks the first time in Kartemquin’s 47-year history where the subjects of a film will be located using an interactive website.
Visitors to www.63boycott.com will be able to browse over 500 photos pulled from Kartemquin’s never-before-released footage of the Chicago School Boycott shot by Gordon Quinn himself when he was a student at the University of Chicago. The site allows users to identify and tag themselves and others in the photos, share their stories with each other and the filmmakers, and upload their own images. The filmmakers will select individual stories for inclusion in the film, '63 Boycott, to be completed in time for the 50th anniversary of the boycott this Fall.
The film will combine hours of unseen footage of the boycott with then-and-now interviews of participants and organizers. Kartemquin Films co-founders Gordon Quinn and Gerry Temaner were students at the University of Chicago in October 1963, and organized a film crew to capture the demonstration. The result is an astounding time capsule of this, until recently, largely forgotten history. A preview of the footage is currently on display as part of the Chicago History Museum’s “Facing Freedom Exhibit,” edited by Kartemquin Films’ Post-Production Manager, Matt Lauterbach.
Kartemquin Films invites participants across the country to share their stories of the 1963 Chicago Public School Boycott and how it shaped their lives at www.63boycott.com, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 773-413-9263.
The project has gotten a tremendous response from former boycotters even before the launch of the website. The filmmakers have spoken with former CPS teachers and students involved in the boycott, in addition to having already filmed two interviews with the organizers of the event itself.
'63 Boycott arrives at a time when Chicago public schools are more segregated than ever. The film and website will provide a modern perspective on the impact and legacy of 1963 Chicago School Boycott.
For five decades, Kartemquin Films of Chicago has produced some of the most renowned documentaries in film history – ranging from 1966’s Home for Life to Hoop Dreams (1994) and The Interrupters (2011).
The website was designed and built by Arlen Parsa with assistance and support from filmmaker and Kartemquin associate, John Fecile.
Contact: Tim Horsburgh: email@example.com / 773-472-4366
About GORDON QUINN, Director/Producer
Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn has been making documentaries for over 45 years. Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun Times, called his first film Home for Life (1966) "an extraordinarily moving documentary." With Home for Life, Gordon established the direction he would take for the next five decades, making cinéma vérité films that investigate and critique society by documenting the unfolding lives of real people.
At Kartemquin, Gordon created a legacy that is an inspiration for young filmmakers and a home where they can make high-quality social-issue documentaries. In addition to his own work, Gordon has executive produced every film at Kartemquin, including their best-known film, Hoop Dreams (1994). Gordon’s work has won every major critical and journalistic prize, including an Emmy, a Peabody, and the Directors Guild Award.
Most recently, Gordon produced and directed A Good Man, a film about choreographer Bill T. Jones for PBS’s American Masters. In addition to '63 Boycott, Gordon is executive producing The Trials of Muhammad Ali, which will world premiere at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and air on PBS Independent Lens in 2014, and The Homestretch, a film about homeless high school youth.
About ZAK PIPER, Producer
Zak Piper is an independent producer who previously served as Director of Production at Kartemquin Films for more than 10 years. Most recently he co-produced the critically acclaimed film The Interrupters, which received many awards, including the 2012 Spirit Award for Best Documentary and the 2013 duPont-Columbia Journalism Award.
He has also co-produced the acclaimed film At the Death House Door, which premiered at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival and was officially short-listed in the Best Documentary category for the 81st Annual Academy Awards, along with the film Prisoner of Her Past (2010) a co-production with the Chicago Tribune that aired nationally on PBS.
Zak is also currently producing, with director Steve James, the documentary Life Itself, for CNN Films, a film based in large part on renowned film critic Roger Ebert’s acclaimed memoir of the same name.
Kartemquin sparks democracy through documentary. Their films, such as The Interrupters, Hoop Dreams and The New Americans, are among the most acclaimed of all time, leaving a lasting impact on millions of viewers.
Kartemquin is a home for independent media makers who seek to create social change through film. With a noted tradition of nurturing emerging talent and acting as a leading voice for independent media, Kartemquin is building on over 45 years of being Chicago's documentary powerhouse. Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.