Kartemquin Films debuts 2 documentaries at Sundance Film Festival

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The Sundance Film Festival will wrap up in Utah this weekend. Chicago's own Kartemquin Films premiered two powerful entries shot in Illinois, one of which stars a high school in Oak Park. (WLS)

The Sundance Film Festival will wrap up in Utah this weekend. Chicago's own Kartemquin Films premiered two powerful entries shot in Illinois, one of which stars a high school in Oak Park.

Sundance always has plenty of star power and celebrities. But this festival is best known for launching exceptional, fresh and innovative films.

"It's a really, really important place to launch a film, to find a buyer for a film, but more importantly to get the word out," said Betsy Steinberg, Executive Director of Kartemquin Films.

"The best films year in and year out are the documentaries...ultimately coming out of the festival, those are the films that people say, you know the film I saw I loved was a documentary," said Director Steve James.

The Kartemquin team had two entries at Sundance. "Minding the Gap" was about friends who grew up in Rockford, Illinois, with troubled pasts.

"It's a really intimate and beautiful look into a world of young men and women who are coming of age, struggling to find themselves, make sense of some pretty tough experiences they've had in their lives as they share a complete love and obsession with skateboarding," said Steinberg.

"America to Me" is from master documentarian Steve James about education at Oak Park & River Forest High School, where his own kids went to school.

"It's a very liberal, diverse community that has also struggled in its very fine school system with issues of achievement between black students and white students.

Usually films focus on really poor schools CPS kinds of schools that are under-funded and besieged communities and Oak Park isn't any of that. You have all of these advantages that yet there are still struggles around issues of race and education," said James.

"America to Me" was just sold to Starz.

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