Kartemquin's 'Diverse Voices' program nurtures minority filmmakers

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Kartemquin is a crown jewel in the Chicago arts community and has an exceptional program to mentor the "Diverse Voices" of minority filmmakers.

It's all about nurturing talent from worlds and lives we don't see at the multiplex. Acclaimed filmmakers guide the way for aspiring artists of color, who make documentaries.

Bing Liu was in the program with "Minding the Gap" and it earned him an Oscar nomination!

"Some of the issues are very common. We all go through the same things, but it's the perspective of the artist and the people in the film that makes it so impactful," said Diverse Voices co-founder Margaret Caples.

"The Cost of Time" is Aisha Allen's story of her brother who was imprisoned at just 16-years-old. He was then released at the age of 27, leaving him to try and find a place in society. The story paints a portrait of a man's overwhelming struggle, as well as his family's.

Allen, a mother of 3, was raised on the South Side and went to Columbia College.

"It's very important to me to help heal communities with the stories that I tell," Allen said. "Right now is a great environment and atmosphere for just promoting diversity and women in front of and behind the camera."

Milton Guillen's "On the Move" tells the story of three artists in exile who are coping with the anguish of displacement. He's from Nicaragua and said Diverse Voices has taken his work to a new level.

"I'm very interested in trying to push the forum into ways to tell our own diverse stories," Guillen said," but they're not necessarily churning into the machine of commercial filmmaking."

The young filmmakers just graduated, and were presented with $50,000 in grants to past and present "voices" to help bring their stories to fruition.

"I think that what Kartemquin can do is allow these filmmakers to understand the importance of staying true to your voice and to really discover the story you need to tell," said Kartemquin Executive Director Jolene Pinder.

Kartemquin is still taking applications for next year's class of Diverse Voices, but the deadline is November 1.
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