Kartemquin Films, the Chicago outfit behind some of the greatest documentaries of all time, celebrates its 50th anniversary with a retrospective at the Museum of the Moving Image spanning the next two weekends.
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.
These are some of the highlights:
“Hoop Dreams” — You could make a case that this is the greatest documentary of all time, the story of inner city Chicago prep basketball players pursuing their dreams on the court at a rural prep school over the course of six years. It really is a singular achievement, an epic at once sprawling and intimate. Steve James, the filmmaker who was staggeringly denied an Oscar nomination in 1995, will appear in person at the screening on Aug. 21 at 2 p.m.
“The Interrupters” — Another masterpiece by James, the opening-night selection follows former Chicago gang members trying to end the epidemic of violence on the city’s streets. It’s a Chicago-specific film in one sense, but the appeal transcends the location to become a deeply moving story about men and women driven to affect change in a real and meaningful way. James will be there on Aug. 19 at 7 p.m.
“The Trials of Muhammad Ali” — The extraordinary life of the late icon beyond the ring is the subject of this acclaimed 2013 documentary, which explores the rewards and challenges of being an outspoken black athlete in mid-century America.