Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn has been making documentaries for over 50 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. Gordon currently executive produces and works creatively on all of Kartemquin’s current productions. Kartemquin’s best known film, “Hoop Dreams” (1994), executive produced by Gordon, was released theatrically to unprecedented critical acclaim. The film follows two inner-city high school basketball players for five years as they pursue their NBA dreams. Its many honors include the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, The Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Chicago Film Critics Award – Best Picture, Los Angeles Film Critics Association – Best Documentary and an Academy Award Nomination.
Other films Gordon has produced include “Vietnam, Long Time Coming,” “Golub,” “5 Girls,” “Refrigerator Mothers” and “Stevie” (for which he received the Sundance Documentary Cinematography award). Gordon executive produced “Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita” and the seven-hour PBS series “The New Americans” (he also directed and photographed the Palestinian segment). He produced a film that deals with the human consequences genetic medicine, “In The Family,” and executive produced two films, one about community based conservation in Africa, “Milking the Rhino,” and “At The Death House Door” on a wrongful execution in Texas. He directed “Prisoner of Her Past,” about a Holocaust survivor suffering from late-onset post-traumatic stress disorder, and co-directed “A Good Man,” about the dancer Bill T. Jones, which was broadcast on PBS’ American Masters.
He recently directed “’63 Boycott,” featuring unseen archival 16mm footage of the 1963 Chicago Public Schools Boycott shot by Quinn in 1963. It had it’s New York City premiere at the Museum of Modern Art’s 2018 Doc Fortnight and its Los Angeles premiere at the 2018 Pan African Arts + Film Festival, where it earned the Audience Award for Best Documentary Short.
His recent films as executive producer include “Minding the Gap” (2018 Sundance Special Jury Award winner for Breakthrough Filmmaking), “All The Queens Horses,” “America to Me” (a 10-part series), “Edith+Eddie” (2018 Academy Award-nominee for Best Documentary Short), “Keep Talking” and “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” (2018 Academy Award-nominee for Best Documentary Feature).
Gordon is a supporter of public and community media, and has served on the boards of several organizations including The Illinois Humanities Council, Chicago Access Network Television and The Public Square Advisory Committee, The Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. A key leader in creating the Documentary Filmmakers Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use, Gordon encourages filmmakers to educate themselves on the tenets of the fair use doctrine, frequently speaking to the media, legal and educational communities about this fundamental right.
Gordon has won numerous awards throughout his career, including three Emmy awards. He has been honored by the International Documentary Association (IDA) with their 2015 Career Achievement Award; was the recipient of the Hot Springs Documentary Festival’s 2014 Career Achievement Award; was honored with a special tribute at the 2015 Houston Cinema Arts Festival; received CIMMfest’s 2016 BAADASSSSS Award, which honors distinguished careers and lifetime achievement in movies and music; and was honored by the 2016 St. Louis International Film Festival’s Maysles Brothers Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary.