Kartemquin Films 50th Anniversary: Block Museum - Northwestern University
Skip to main content

Kartemquin Films 50th Anniversary

Kartemquin Films 50th Anniversary

Event Details

Date & Time:

Thu January 28, 2016 - Fri January 29, 2016


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public


Over the past fifty years, Kartemquin Films has solidified its place as a powerhouse in the field of socially relevant documentary film. From the company’s inception, founder and artistic director Gordon Quinn has zeroed in on the most pressing current issues and has managed to create constructive dialogues around them. Kartemquin’s films have focused on a range of topics that are still relevant today, such as the gentrification of immigrant neighborhoods, refugees and immigration in the US, and violence in Chicago communities. The two films chosen for this series, Thumbs Down and Stevie, were both shot in Illinois. They represent two drastically different periods, both in terms of subjects and of style, and epitomize the diversity of Kartemquin’s approaches, their historical legacy, and continuing relevance.

This program is made possible with the support of Northwestern University’s MFA in Documentary Media.


Thumbs Down

Thursday, January 28, 2016 7:00 PM
(Gordon Quinn and Gerald Temaner, 1968, US, digital, 102 min.)

In 1968, Thumbs Down, a youth group in a conservative Northwest Chicago Christian church, decided that they were unwilling to remain complacent about serious social issues including the war in Vietnam and the civil rights movement. Armed with Bible verses and morality, the members of Thumbs Down were determined to make their voices heard by an older generation. Like other early Kartemquin films, Thumbs Down is shot in cinema-vérité style—attempting to let the action play out in front of the camera with as little interference as possible from the filmmakers.

In person: Gordon Quinn



Friday, January 29, 2016 7:00 PM FREE
(Steve James, 2002, US, digital, 144 min.)
Stevie is a portrait of Stevie Fielding, former Little Brother of filmmaker Steve James. Made over the course of four and a half years, the film documents their reconnection after ten years of separation. During the making of the film, Fielding was arrested for criminal sexual assault. The way in which James’ film continues after this incident is what makes it compelling. It’s a powerful and sensitive character study, chronicling Stevie’s difficult upbringing, his personal relationships, and his self-destructive tendencies. The film (and by extension, James) never attempts to ignore or gloss over the severity of his crime.

In person: Steve James

Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at block-museum@northwestern.edu