“Head to Head”, “The Mask that Grins and Lies” receive Kartemquin Film grants

Chicago-based non-profit documentary organization Kartemquin Films has unveiled the 12 recipients of the 2019 Diverse Voices Accelerator Fund and Emerging Storyteller Fund grants. Among the titles receiving funding from Kartemquin are ...
October 1, 2019

Chicago-based non-profit documentary organization Kartemquin Films has unveiled the 12 recipients of the 2019 Diverse Voices Accelerator Fund and Emerging Storyteller Fund grants.

Among the titles receiving funding from Kartemquin are director Andrea Alberti’s Head to Head (pictured), which traces the path of human hair from women in India sacrificing their hair to the heads of women with hair loss, and Martine Granby’s The Mask that Grins and Lies, which uncovers the intergenerational silence surrounding black women’s mental illness.

“This slate of grantees comprises an exciting array of cinematic styles and distinctive directorial perspectives, all sharing an alignment with Kartemquin’s mission of supporting independent filmmakers utilizing the documentary form to deepen our understanding of society through everyday human drama,” said Kartemquin executive director Jolene Pinder, in a statement.

Both grants seek to provide funding to budding filmmakers currently or previously enrolled in Kartemquin’s filmmaker development programs – KTQ Internship, KTQ Labs, Diverse Voices in Docs – or who are currently engaged in copros with Kartemquin.

In total, Kartemquin will offer US$90,000 in funding, which will be shared among the 12 projects.

Previous grantees include Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap, Laura Checkoway’s Edith+Eddie, Jiayan “Jenny” Shi’s Finding Yingying and Sergio M. Rapu’s Eating Up Easter.

The Diverse Voices Accelerator Fund provides grants specifically to current or former participants in the Diverse Voices in Docs (DVID) fellowship, which has recently opened a call for applications for its 2020 professional mentorship program.

The grants are made possible via founding support from the Sage Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Kartemquin will provide previews of select funded works at the organization’s second annual Empowering Truth Benefit Luncheon on Oct. 29 at The Standard Club in Chicago.

Below are this year’s grant recipients, with descriptions courtesy of Kartemquin Films:


Directed by Erika Valenciana (Diverse Voices in Docs); produced by Anuradha Rana (KTQ Labs, Diverse Voices in Docs)

Brewer is a short poetic documentary that highlights women in brewing and normalizes their presence in a male-dominated space.

Hayden and Her Family
Directed and produced by May Tchao (KTQ Labs)

What drives a couple to adopt five special needs children from overseas – when they already have seven biological children?

Head to Head
Directed by Andrea Alberti (KTQ Labs); produced by Katy Osborn (KTQ Labs)

After unexpectedly losing their hair, five Midwestern women experience a traumatic blow to their self-image and search for ways to restore their mental health, relationships, and social life. Partly as a way to fit into society, these women take financial gambles on wigs, many of which are made from — or falsely marketed as — sacrificial human hair from South India, also known as ‘black gold’.

La Bonga
Directed by Sebastián Pinzón-Silva (KTQ Internship, Diverse Voices in Docs); produced by Gabriella Garcia-Pardo

Nearly twenty years after fleeing the violence of civil war, a displaced community embarks on a symbolic journey through the jungles of northern Colombia to resurrect a home that exists only in their memory.

Last Call
Directed and produced by Ankur Singh (KTQ Internship) and Cai Thomas (Diverse Voices in Docs)

Last Call is a short documentary series that follows three families across Chicago as they are forced to close down their local businesses that have been open for generations. The series captures communities grappling with losing a place they consider home as large economic and political forces reshape the city’s unique 77 neighborhoods.

First Vote
Directed and produced by Yi Chen (KTQ Labs)

A soon-to-be first-time voter, the filmmaker’s two-year journey into the Rust Belt and South captures ardent first-time Chinese immigrant voters’ experimentation with newfound democracy in America.

The Sebastopol Siege
Directed and produced by Mimi Wilcox (KTQ Internship, KTQ Labs)

On the night of March 2nd, 1973, Michaela Madden, a recently widowed mother of 5, was held hostage for 8 hours in her rural California home­ — and subsequently vilified by her community. When her family revisits the story forty-five years later, the powers of human compassion and police aggression come into conflict in a larger exploration of family mythology and trauma.

Teaching About Religion
Directed and produced by Allison Walsh (KTQ Internship)

In a midwestern suburban high school, students take a World Religion class that challenges their assumptions about religion, culture, and society.


Alive in Detroit
Directed and produced by Shiraz Ahmed (Diverse Voices in Docs)

A young journalist searches to understand how his uninsured mother received a free heart surgery, but instead learns a deeper lesson about the social compact that undergirds our safety net from a doctor, a pastor and a patient in a city forgotten by industry and government.

The Mask that Grins and Lies
Directed by Martine Granby (Diverse Voices in Docs); produced by Meggie Cramer

The Mask that Grins and Lies is a meditative documentary feature that uncovers the intergenerational silence shrouding black women’s mental illness; told through the lens of filmmaker and subject, Martine Granby. By untying generations of knots that have bound the women in her family to the stigma of mental illness, Martine admits that she was never taught the tools to cope. With their stories in the open, she examines how they move forward.

On the Move
Directed by Milton Guillén (Diverse Voices in Docs)

Filmmaker Milton Guillén follows three visual artists in exile, himself included, as they utilize poetry, therapy sessions and dreams to remain emotionally connected to their destroyed home countries to cope with the emotional effects of forced migration.

Teaching While Black
Directed by Latesha Dickerson (Diverse Voices in Docs); produced by Laura Gomez-Mesquita

Like many cities across the country, Chicago’s public schools grow increasingly diverse; yet the number of Black teachers is dwindling. Through the intimate stories of four teachers, Teaching While Black explores the obstacles Black teachers face as they try to land and maintain jobs in an educational system plagued by underfunding, discrimination, and school closures.

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is the Associate Editor at Realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.