Kartemquin Oscar party celebrates a winning tradition

The Kartemquin Oscar party (photo: Andrea Raby)

The Kartemquin Oscar party (photo: Andrea Raby)

“Minding the Gap’s”
Oscar nomination
is part of a
Chicago filmmaking
tradition that
dates back
a half-century

Although a pair of VIP’s were noticeably absent from Kartemquin Film’s Oscar party last Sunday night, Co-Founder and Artistic Director Gordon Quinn didn’t seem to mind.

“It was great to celebrate Minding the Gap with the Kartemquin community at our 2019 Oscars party, hosted by Kartemquin Board Chair Jason Stephens,” he exclaimed after the bash. “We are so proud of Bing Liu, Diane Quon, and the film they made.”

The Oscars at Kartemquin (photo: Andrea Raby)
The Oscars at Kartemquin (photo: Andrea Raby)

Liu and Quon are the director and producer of Minding the Gap, the Sundance award-winning 2018 documentary that IMDb describes as “three young men (who) bond together to escape volatile families in their Rust-Belt hometown.” The filmmakers could not join the party in Chicago because they were attending the Oscars in Hollywood, where their film was among the contenders for Best Feature Documentary.

But Kartemquin made them part of the celebration nonetheless.

“It was quite special to witness and be a part of the collective pride emanating from Kartemquin’s Oscar party,” said Kartemquin Board Chair Jason Stephens. “Pride for Bing, Diane, and Minding the Gap, of course, and also pride for all of the achievements and impact we’ve made together. At its core, Kartemquin is a community of people collected over its 53-year history who share a common belief in the grand potential of great storytelling”

ALSO READ: Bing Liu on the making of “Minding the Gap.”



A life-sized cardboard cutout of Liu and Quon was printed especially for the Oscar party at Kartemquin’s studio. It was a favored prop for guests posing in front of the photo backdrop.

The gesture made a fitting complement to the pair’s undeniable triumph.

Nominated by the Academy for Best Documentary, Minding the Gap has sparked a widespread thrill that can accurately be described as Kartemquin-esque. Besides being a product of Liu’s participation in the production house’s Diverse Voices in Docs cohort, the film has become part of a canon that includes Hoop Dreams, the 1994 doc directed by Kartemquin’s Steve James, who served as an executive producer for Liu and Quon’s film.

Celebratory cake (photo: Andrea Raby)
Celebratory cake (photo: Andrea Raby)

The Atlantic called Minding the Gap an “extraordinary feat.” Rolling Stone praised its “statement about the shifting definitions of what it means to be a man.” Reel Chicago’s Joey Filer wrote about its “gut-wrenching look at the relationship between skater culture, race, masculinity, domestic violence, and child abuse.”

According to Interim Kartemquin Executive Director Elspeth Revere, celebrating the film’s Academy Award nomination Sunday night reinforces a Kartemquin Film tradition that dates back half a century.

“Last night, Kartemquin celebrated not only the success of Minding the Gap, but also the importance of telling stories about people and the problems they face,” she said. “We were represented at the Academy Awards ceremony not only by the film’s director Bing Liu and producer Diane Quon, but also some of the important people who shared their personal stories in the film. For those of us who stayed in Chicago, we enjoyed the friendship of a community that was fifty years in the making, and celebrated Kartemquin’s wider recognition in the world.”

Back in Hollywood, Free Solo by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes and Shannon Dill won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

But Minding the Gap continues to play in theaters and festivals around the world, including places like Australia, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Croatia, and Norway. Find a full list of screenings here.

To see photos from Kartemquin’s 2019 Oscar party, click here.

Send your Indie Film Updates to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.