Kartemquin’s Oscar-nom’d docs headline MIFF


The Midwest Independent Film Festival announced that April’s First Tuesday will be a celebration of sorts for Chicago’s own Kartemquin Films with a special double feature showcasing both of their 2018 Academy Award Nominated films on April 3!

Screening will be Abacus: Small Enough to Jail and Edith and Eddie.

Helmed by acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), Abacus tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York.

Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves — and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community — over the course of a five-year legal battle.



Steve James and producer Mark Mitten will be attending for a Q&A following the films.

Acting Director Mike Kwielford told The Reel that he could not be more excited about celebrating the two documentaries.

“The Midwest Independent Film Festival is dedicated to celebrating and strengthening the Chicago and Midwest Film Community, and Kartemquin Films has been a staple of this community for over 50 years. Their films Abacus: Small Enough to Jail and Edith+Eddie have been recognized at the very top levels of our industry, and we are proud to recognize and celebrate that with this special showcase.”

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The other documentary is the touching short, Edith and Eddie. At ages 96 and 95, the couple is America’s oldest interracial newlyweds. Their love story is disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear the couple apart. The film was executive-produced by Cher after she learned about the couple from a local news story and offered to pay for repairs to the couple’s home and Edith’s medical bills.



Chuck Todd from Meet the Press called it “a terrific documentary” and Simon Kilmurry, Executive Director of the International Documentary Association, said the film was distinguished by “unforgettable lead characters” and “sensitive elicitation of universal truths. In IndieWire, Anne Thompson called the film “a heart-tugger about a bi-racial elderly couple struggling to stay together.”

Kwielford added, “These two films tell amazing stories that are not only relevant to today’s political environment, but also timeless in their themes and heart. This is exactly what great independent cinema is about.”

Preceding the Producers Panel will feature an in-depth discussion about documentary filmmaking with Kartemquin Films Producer Mark Mitten and Executive Producer Betsy Steinberg.

The festivities start with a 6:00 PM cocktail reception at Landmark Century Centre. Kwielford encourages everyone to stay for the after party as well. More information and tickets can be found by clicking here.

Contact Colin Costello at colin@reelchicago.com or follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.