Your First Look at Eight New Documentary Features in Development for 2023

Bold and impactful voices are poised to be amplified in the new year. Chicago’s revered documentary filmmaking house Kartemquin Films is at the heart of that amplification. After a year-long process that included the development of a pipeline process rooted in equity and in alignment with their refreshed organizational values, Kartemquin has announced their partnership with eight dynamic filmmaking teams.

“The seeds of transformation planted during our reflection period have yielded even more promise,” Executive Director Betsy Leonard said in a statement. “We’re excited to be in development and production partnerships with a host of new projects, filmmakers with firsthand stories to tell on issues ranging from trans health to disability power to the anguish of being stateless and more.”

Let’s take a rapid-fire look of the eight promising projects…

17 Days (Dir. Christine Varisse)
After receiving a notice of deportation at 18, director Christine Varisse retraces her footsteps towards citizenship while also rebuilding the relationship with her parents broken by the stalemate of the immigration system.

635 Miles (Dir. Anna Andersen and Kelsey Peterson; Prod. Grishma Shah)
In one of the most difficult and competitive races in the world, disabled sailors set out to win.

African American Midwest (Series)
(Prod. Adia Ivey, Christy Clark-Pujara, Ashley Howard, Erik McDuffie, Crystal Moten, Terrion Williamson, Christopher Wilson, Dan Manatt)
A series exploring how the Midwest became the Heartland of the fight for racial justice and African American history.

A Rebel Without A Pause
(Dir. Maya Cueva; Prod. Daniel Tantalean)
A Rebel Without A Pause tells the inspiring and untold true story of how Doctor Quentin Young – Personal Physician to Barack Obama, Fred Hampton, and Martin Luther King – risked his life fighting to bring free healthcare to the people.

(Dir./Prod. Joua Lee Grande)
What is Hmong spirituality and how does it look in this generation in America?

Papi’s Pregnant
(Dir. Oli Rogeriguez; Prod. Sarah Martino)
Papi’s Pregnant chronicles filmmaker Oli Rodriguez’ conception and navigation of getting pregnant as a transmasculine identified/non-binary person. 

Untitled Scientist Project
(Dir. Jiayan “Jenny” Shi; EP Diane Quon)
The Untitled Scientist Project captures the storm center of the crackdown on scientists and researchers that have ties to China.

Shi burst onto the national filmmaking landscape with her award-winning debut feature Finding Yingying, which won numerous awards including the Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Voice at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival, a China Academy Award of Documentary Films, and a nomination for a News & Documentary Emmy award. Shi’s new endeavor The Untitled Scientist Project is also supported by the Peng Zhao and Cherry Chen Fund for AAPI Voices, which provides $50,000 co-production award towards production, and mentorship within the award-winning Kartemquin collaborative production model. Click here for SCREEN’s article earlier this year about the Zhao Chen Fund recipients.

You can learn more about the films by clicking here.

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