Brent E. Huffman


Brent E. Huffman is an award-winning director, producer and cinematographer of documentaries and television programs. His work ranges from documentaries aired on The Discovery Channel, The National Geographic Channel, NBC, CNN, PBS and Al Jazeera, to Sundance Film Festival premieres, to ethnographic films made for the China Exploration and Research Society.   He has also directed, produced, shot, and edited short documentaries for online outlets like The New York Times, TIME, Salon, Huffington Post and PBS Arts.

Huffman has been making social issue documentaries and environmental films for more than a decade in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These films have gone on to win numerous awards including a Primetime Emmy, Best Conservation Film-Jackson Hole, Best Documentary-Fresno, three Cine Golden Eagle Awards, a College Emmy, a Student Academy Award, and a Grand Jury Award at AFI’s SILVERDOCS.

Huffman was also an editor of Julia Reichert’s and Steven Bognar’s Primetime Emmy winning PBS documentary series A Lion in the House about children battling cancer.

Huffman is also a writer whose work has been featured in CNN, Asia Society, Tricycle Magazine, Bust Magazine, The Wilson Quarterly, FRONTLINE, The University of Chicago Divinity School and The China Digital Times. He recently completed a book about his experiences in China called Life in the Heart of China: Diary from a Forbidden World.

In 2009, Huffman covered Vortex 2, the world’s largest tornado research project for NBC and The Weather Channel. Most recently, he completed the documentary The Colony for Al Jazeera about China in Africa. He is currently working on two new documentaries in Afghanistan and China.

Brent Huffman is also an associate professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University where he teaches documentary production and theory.

Xiaoli Zhou


Xiaoli Zhou is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and instructor at University of Chicago Laboratory Schools with a strong journalism background. As a native Chinese and a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, Zhou specializes in international reporting and making documentaries about Asian cultures.

Zhou’s work has aired on The Discovery Channel, PBS and Al Jazeera, among others. Her documentaries have screened at various film festivals around the world. For the past few years, she has been honored by the Foreign Press Association, American Women in Radio and Television, Asian American Journalists Association and Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Zhou’s film The Women’s Kingdom received a silver medal in the documentary category of 2006 Student Academy Awards and won the Best Editing Award from San Francisco Women’s Film Festival.

The documentary short Utopia 3: The World’s Largest Shopping Mall produced by Zhou has premiered in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

Most recently, Zhou has co-produced and co-directed The Colony about the Chinese in Africa with her husband Brent E. Huffman for Al Jazeera.

Zhou also translated former Vice President Al Gore’s global warming presentation, featured in the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, for a Chinese audience.

hannie lee

Outreach Coordinator

Hannie Lee is a filmmaker currently based in South Korea. A graduate of School of Communication, Northwestern University, Hannie has helped the film "Saving Mes Aynak" get translated into multiple languages and screened internationally, including in North Korea. Trained in cinematography, editing, and designing, Hannie has produced visual work for VICE, Family Matters Chicago, Block Museum of Art, and more, and continues to work on independent projects to address social issues around the world.

Zak Piper


Zak is an independent Producer, Director, and Sound Recordist who, until 2013, served as Kartemquin Film's Director of Production and was on staff for more than 10 years. He most recently produced the critically acclaimed film Life Itself, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was an official selection of the 67th Cannes Film Festival. For this film, Zak received the Producers Guild of America award for Outstanding Producer of a Documentary Theatrical Motion Picture. The film was also nominated for a Gotham Award for Best Documentary and 5 Cinema Eye Honors. The National Board of Review and Broadcast Film Critics Association awarded Life Itself their Best Documentary Award, while Entertainment Weekly listed the film in its top 5 films of the year. It also won the Rotten Tomato "Golden Tomato" Award for the best reviewed documentary of the year. Life Itself was released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures in the summer of 2014 and was broadcast worldwide on CNN in 2015.

Zak also co-produced the critically acclaimed film The Interrupters, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and went on to screen at film festivals worldwide, collecting two Best Documentary Awards and two Audience Awards in addition to a Special Jury Award at the 2011 Sheffield Documentary Festival and 2011 Full Frame Documentary Festival. In 2011, The Interrupters was released theatrically in the US, Canada, and the UK, culminating in television broadcasts on PBS Frontline, BBC Storyville, Canal Plus, and the CBC. The film received a 2012 Spirit Award for Best Documentary, was honored by the Cinema Eye Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Filmmaking and was awarded Best Documentary by the Chicago Film Critics Association.The New Yorker, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, and LA Times all hailed The Interrupters as one of the year’s best films. The film was also the recipient of a 2013 duPont-Columbia Journalism Award and a 2012 News & Documentary Emmy Award.

Previously, Zak was Co-Producer of At the Death House Door, which premiered at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival and was officially short-listed in the Best Documentary category for the 81st Annual Academy Awards.

Zak was also the Associate Producer of Prisoner of Her Past, Kartemquin’s co-production with The Chicago Tribune.

Julia Reichert

Executive Producer

Julia Reichert has been called a godmother of the American independent film movement and is a three time Oscar nominee. Her film Growing Up Female (with Jim Klein) was the first feature documentary of the modern Women's Movement. It was chosen for inclusion on the National Film Registry. Her films Union Maids and Seeing Red (with Klein) were both nominated for Academy Awards for Best Feature Documentary, as was The Last Truck, as a Short. Her film A Lion in the House (with Steven Bognar) premiered at Sundance, screened nationally on PBS, was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award, won the Primetime Emmy for "Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking". She co-wrote and directed the feature Emma and Elvis, produced the feature The Dream Catcher. Her latest film, The Last Truck (with Steven Bognar) premiered on HBO, and the Telluride Film Festival. Julia is co-founder of New Day Films, the film distribution co-op. She is author of Doing It Yourself, the first book on self-distribution in independent film, and is Professor of Motion Pictures at Wright State University in Ohio.

Gordon Quinn

Executive Producer

The 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 four 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. 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 made include Vietnam, Long Time ComingGolub, 5 Girls,Refrigerator Mothers and Stevie.  Gordon executive produced Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita and The New Americans (he also directed the Palestinian segment of this award winning, intimate, seven-hour series). Recently 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.  In the role of director, he recently completed Prisoner of Her Past, about a Holocaust survivor suffering from late-onset post-traumatic stress disorder, and co-directed the 2011 release A Good Man, about the dancer Bill T. Jones. 

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.

As well executive producing all our in-progress films, he is currently developing '63 Boycott.

Justine Nagan

Executive Producer

Since 2008, Justine has led Kartemquin Films as our Executive Director as well as being an Executive Producer on each new film. She is responsible, in concert with the Board of Directors, for creating and implementing the strategic vision for Kartemquin. Justine successfully transitioned to the ED role in a historic founder-led organization, and has made major strides in building a foundation for long-term sustainability.

With Kartemquin, she also directed Typeface, an award-winning documentary on American typography and graphic design and the doc short Sacred Transformations. Formerly she worked as the organization's Director of Communications & Distribution and as the Associate Producer on Kartemquin’s Peabody-Award winning documentary Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita, which was broadcast nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens in early 2008. She is currently Executive Producing several Kartemquin films at the busiest time in our history, most recently completing The Interrupters, directed by Steve James, which won the 2012 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.Prior to these projects, she helped Kartemquin to develop the series The Learning Chronicles while earning her Master's Degree in the Humanities with an emphasis on Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Chicago. Other Chicago experience includes teaching at the Hyde Park Art Center, as well as working as a Theatre Manager at the Cadillac Palace and Thorne Auditorium for the Chicago International Film Festival and as a summer Fellow for The HistoryMakers, an African-American video oral-history archive. 

Before moving to Chicago, she produced promotional spots for Public Television, directed the post-production department for a small media firm and worked for various other companies ranging from M&C Saatchi in Sydney, Australia to Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know? on National Public Radio. Justine received her Bachelor's Degree in Film and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and has been a distinguished young alum: featured in 2012 in their "Forward under 40" list and in 2010, as recipient of the Ralph O. Nafziger award for "distinguished achievement by an alumnus within 10 years of graduation." She was selected to join the 2012 Leadership Greater Chicago class of fellows and in 2013 was named a "40 under 40" leader by the national New Leaders Council. Additionally, Justine was one of three Chicago-area nonprofit executive directors to be awarded the 2013 Harvard Business School Club of Chicago Fellowship. 

She is an active volunteer in the community for such organizations as The Glass Slipper Project, the Hyde Park Art Center and WTTW. She is currently on the Advisory Board for Midwest Independent Film Festival, has served on the IFP Chicago Board, as the staff representative on Kartemquin’s Board of Directors, as an elected member of the Badger Herald Newspaper’s Board, and has acted on several other civic and community committees. Justine lives in Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago, with her husband Matt and son Rhett.

James Klein

Consulting Editor

James Klein has been an independent filmmaker since 1970. With his partner, Julia Reichert, he created such innovative documentaries as Growing Up Female, the first documentary about women from a feminist perspective which was selected for the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress; Union Maids, one of the first oral history films and an Academy Award nominee; Methadone: An American Way of Dealing, which challenged government policies on heroin addiction; and Seeing Red, a film about American communists that was nominated for an Academy Award.

He is a founder of New Day Films. Klein's first solo documentary, Letter to the Next Generation, contrasts the political attitudes of today's college students with those of college students 20 years ago, and Taken For a Ride confronts the controversial reasons for the failures of public transit in America.

Klein has also had a distinguished career as a film editor in the independent film community, such as Scout's Honor, about gay discrimination within the Boy Scouts; Lion In The House, about kids and their families fighting cancer and a prime time Emmy winner; and The Last Truck, about the closing of a GM truck factory and an Academy Award nominee.

Matt Lauterbach

Co-Editor and Post Production Manager

Matt Lauterbach is a documentary filmmaker and editor, an educational media developer, and an advocate for accessible media.  He crafts engaging non-fiction content for classrooms, museums, and the big screen. 

Most recently, Matt served as Post Production Manager (2012-2014) at Kartemquin Films during two of the most productive years in the organization’s 50-year history.  He and his five-person team escorted nine films safely to release during that period.  Matt looks back with particular fondness on his time as Post Supervisor of The Trials of Muhammad Ali; as an editor of American Arab; and as Co-Editor of Saving Mes Aynak.  He continues to freelance for Kartemquin, and is now editing Unbroken Glass, the directorial debut of producer-cinematographer Dinesh Sabu. 

Before delving into the world of documentary storytelling, Matt taught history and psychology to teens at Curie Metro High School in Chicago; created interactive maps for use in science and history classrooms; and helped develop the “Lincoln Transformed” and “Facing Freedom” exhibitions at the Chicago History Museum.  There, he played a key role in the inception of ’63 Boycott, a Kartemquin project that began as an exhibit video and expanded into a short film and oral history project in 2013.  

Matt is also dedicated to making the arts and digital media accessible to those with impaired vision, hearing, or mobility.  Since 2006, he has been volunteering as a “Tactile” tour guide for patrons with low-vision at Victory Gardens Theater, Chicago.  His first self-produced short film, Hearing Images, explored this theater’s ground-breaking Access Project.  Matt currently volunteers as a media accessibility coordinator for Kartemquin Films, working to secure funding for closed captioning, audio description, and the development of a fully accessible web page.

Ryan Gleeson

Post-Production Supervisor

A graduate of Columbia College Chicago, Ryan joined Kartemquin Films as an intern of Xan Aranda and assisted in the rollout of her film Andrew Bird: Fever Year. Later, as an intern at Kartemquin, he worked on a range of tasks including contributing to outreach on The Interrupters, assisting in editing of the demo of Living Revolution, and helping with Kartemquin’s first KTQ Labs Spring Showcase.

In 2012, Ryan assisted Jerry Blumenthal in the editing of Kartemquin and University of Chicago collaboration Hyphenated Humor, and began working on the Kartemquin Archive Project. From 2013 to 2014, Ryan was the Post-Production Supervisor for Kartemquin's In the Game and Life Itself, and was the assistant editor for The Homestretch and Life Itself. He is currently on staff at Kartemquin Films as its Technical Coordinator.

Born in Dayton, Ohio and raised in Richmond, Indiana, Ryan credits his passion for social issue filmmaking to growing up in post-industrial Midwest America. He currently resides in Chicago and allegedly cooks a mean spaghetti.