Ruth Leitman has a BFA in Film and Photography from University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Through her company Ruthless Films, she has directed six feature length documentary films that have received funding from Rockefeller Foundation, Paul Robeson Fund, TriBeCa Film Institute, Fledgling Fund and Illinois Humanities Council. Her films focus on women and those whose lives have faced a lack of opportunity, but who are survivors.
Leitman’s Southern Gothic film Alma (1998), won the Documentary Feature Jury Prize at Hamptons Film Festival, screened at International Documentary Film Amsterdam, South by Southwest, Director’s Guild of America and the Whitney Biennial. Her film Lipstick & Dynamite (2005) premiered at TriBeCa Film Festival and Hot Docs. It won the Documentary Storytelling Prize at Nantucket Film Festival, was released theatrically by Koch Lorber Films and broadcast on SHOWTIME. Lipstick was featured on Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and NPR’s Fresh Air and Morning Edition. Leitman wrote Fordson, which has garnered numerous festival awards. Most recently Tony & Janina’ s American Wedding (2010) an immigration story, premiered at Chicago International Film Festival winning a Jury Prize. The film won several advocacy awards after it became a clear agent for change, after the film’s subjects were reunited in the US in August 2011.
In the summer of 2009, Leitman’s first documentary Wildwood, NJ. (1994) became a youtube viral hit. With over a millions views, featured on several best of year-end lists, hundreds of blogs including: Jezebel, Urban Outfitters, G4’s Attack of the Show, VH-1’s Best Week Ever, the film became a symbol of ‘90’s zeitgeist girl culture. It was appropriated and reused in pop culture media from the fashion runways of Milan to music videos of Lana Del Rey. Wildwood was invited to screen at Hot Doc’s fifteen-year anniversary festival in 2013.
Leitman was a director on the documentary series Hard Earned produced by Kartemquin Films, which aired on Al Jazeera America in 2015. She is currently in development on the 1950’s fiction feature film, The Pin-Down Girl, about the pioneers of women’s wrestling.
Leitman is on the faculty at Columbia College Chicago.
Caryn Capotosto is a documentary producer from Chicago. Most recently she produced Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the critically acclaimed and top-grossing documentary film of 2018 that was released by Focus Features. She received a 2016 News and Documentary Emmy Award Award for her role as Co-Producer on Best of Enemies, and she was Associate Producer on the Academy Award and Grammy Award-winning documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom (2013). Her feature docs include Afghan Cycles (Executive Producer, 2018), The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble (Associate Producer, 2015), Filmage: The Story of Descendents / ALL (Co-Producer, 2014), and Crossfire Hurricane (HBO, 2012). Other recent projects include the documentary series Ugly Delicious (Executive Producer, 2018).
Alanna Schmelter is a film & television editor with a concentration in narrative non-fiction & documentary. After graduating with a degree in film editing from Columbia College Chicago, she started her career by cutting comedy at the world-renowned Second City. She has since edited series for National Geographic, Travel Channel, Ovation, and A&E. In January 2016, she finished cutting a feature documentary titled Walk All Night: A Drum Beat Journey (Co-dir: Kate Benzschawel & Mallory Sohmer), about four teenage street musicians from Chicago who embark on a journey to Senegal to explore its culture and their connection to Africa. The film made its Chicago debut at the Black Harvest Film Festival in August of 2016.
Her working relationship with Kartemquin started in 2014 as a part-time post-production assistant before eventually taking a position as Co-Editor on America to Me, the ten-part series directed by Steve James. It made its debut in the inaugural Indie Episodic category of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and will be premiering on Starz this Fall. In March 2018, she joined the Lady Parts Justice in the New World Order team as Editor. She is thrilled to be melding her comedic sensibilities with her devotion to documentary in a compelling & timely female-driven story.
Andrea Raby is a documentary filmmaker and a commercial film producer based in Chicago, IL. After graduating from Michigan State University, she began her film career at Ogilvy & Mather producing branded commercial content for brands like Huggies and Modelo. During that time, she directed and produced her first documentary short, 'Sick' in 2017, which follows artist Nick Fisher as he uses Instagram art drops to create a living as an artist. The film premiered at the Chicago Underground Film Festival in June of 2018.
Andrea then did an internship with Kartemquin Films, where she worked on various in-progress projects. She is passionate about reproductive rights, and is excited to be working on a series with such a timely message.
Executive Director Betsy Steinberg joined Kartemquin in December 2015 and oversees daily operations, development, and serves as Executive Producer on Kartemquin projects. Prior to Kartemquin, she spent eight years as Managing Director of the Illinois Film Office where she spearheaded Illinois’ transformation into a world-class film destination. She was instrumental in the passage of the Illinois film tax credit and implemented an overall business development strategy resulting in over $1 billion in direct economic impact. During her tenure the state broke all local film industry revenues in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013 and the Illinois Film Office was recognized by the Illinois Arts Alliance with an Arts Advocate Award and Cinema Chicago's Golden Hugo. She also served on the Governor's Roundtable on the Creative Arts and the boards of Free Spirit Media, Chicago Media Project and the Midwest Independent Film Festival.
Before her work at the film office, Steinberg served as vice president of business development for Towers Productions developing and pitching documentary specials and series for networks such as A&E, History, Discovery and National Geographic. She also supervised, produced and directed documentary specials and series including Emmy nominated Isaac's Storm and The Times Capsule, a co-production with the New York Times and History Channel. She began her career in Washington, DC working for the late documentarian and political consultant Bob Squier.
She holds her bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a Cours de Civilisation from the University of Paris, Sorbonne.
Gordon is the Artistic and co-founder of Kartemquin Films, where over the past 50 years he has helped hundreds of documentary filmmakers advance their projects forward and been a leading champion of the rights of all documentary filmmakers. He is the 2015 recipient of the International Documentary Association Career Achievement Award and was a key leader in creating the Documentary Filmmakers Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use. His credits as director and producer include films as diverse and essential as Inquiring Nuns (1966), Golub (1988), and A Good Man (2011), and as executive producer include Academy-Award nominated Hoop Dreams (1994), and the Emmy Award-winning The Interrupters (2011), The Trials of Muhammad Ali (2013), The Homestretch (2014), and Life Itself (2014), and the acclaimed limited series The New Americans (2003) and Hard Earned (2015).
'63 Boycott, directed by Gordon and featuring unseen archival 16mm footage of the 1963 Chicago Public Schools Boycott shot by Quinn, world premiered at the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival, made its 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.
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.
DeAnna "De" Cooper Co-Founded Amarok Productions and is President of Elston Films while continuing to consult at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. De is an award-winning Producer with over twenty years of experience in the film industry, including being a senior executive at Twentieth Century Fox Studios and New Line Cinemas.
De's independently produced projects include : I Heart Shakey in 3D (2012), The Painter (2013), Chasing Gold (2014), Rockit (2015), Happy Snow Day (2016), The Go Cart(2016), Chasing the Blues (2017), Vendors (2017) and Miss Arizona (2018). Her films have played all around the world via Academy Award qualifying film festivals, theaters, VOD, retail and rental markets.
De has several high profile projects in development including the Black List Script, Bury The Lead to be directed by Anthony Hemingway. Projects in post production include The Cellar and Lady Parts Justice in The New World Order, which will be De's first produced documentary.
As the Executive Producer at Tomorrow Pictures, Ellen's role is to turn ideas into polished productions that deliver for audiences. Part production guru, part strategic enthusiast, she enjoys thinking through the details that lead to great creative execution.
The talented teams she has worked with have produced work honored by a few great industry awards, like being a part of the Peabody award-winning team for a 26-part NPR radio documentary series about Civil Rights, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” Recently, Ellen produced an award-winning documentary airing nationally on PBS as part of the Reel South series and airing on ASPiRE! as part of the American Black Film Festival Series.
As the producer and EP on the film After the Fall: HIV Grows Up, a story of the survivors of Romania’s pediatric AIDS epidemic, her production company partnered with NGOs, global organizations, and LA based Creative Visions for distribution of the film which is available for free to all audiences. The film screened at the UN, at the International AIDS Conference and at numerous organizations, including the Center for Civil and Human Rights with a panel of experts from CDC, Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and other activist groups.
Rachel Rozycki is a social conscience documentary filmmaker, who most recently Co-Produced Keep Talking, a documentary feature following four Alaska Native women fighting to save Kodiak Alutiiq, an endangered language now spoken by less than 40 remaining fluent Native Elders. Keep Talking premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival in the fall of 2017, has been screening at festivals all over the world and is premiering on PBS.
Rachel was also the Chicago/Midwest field producer for the documentary Student Athlete by award winning filmmaker Trish Dalton and two time Oscar Winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy about the exploitation of NCAA athletes, premiering on HBO Sports.
In addition, she has contributed on a number of Kartemquin films including The Trials of Muhammad Ali (dir. Bill Siegel), the multi-award winning Life Itself (dir. Steve James), and the six-part series Hard Earned, which aired on Al Jazeera America.
As well as her work in documentary, Rachel has played an instrumental role on a number of narrative films, including her work as producer for the feature historical docudrama Hogtown, which premiered at the 2014 Black Harvest International Film Festival, the 2014 Calgary International Film Festival, and screened in the 2015 Berlinale-EFM.
Rachel is on the faculty at Columbia College Chicago.