DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Maria Finitzo is a two-time Peabody Award-winning social issue documentary filmmaker whose 30 years as a filmmaker has resulted in a body of work that has won every major broadcast award including most recently the Alfred E duPont Award and has been screened in festivals and theaters around the world. Her films are novelistic in their structure, providing multiple points of connection for an audience. She allows the narrative arc of her character’s story to evolve, colliding with other subjects from the film, creating a complex, nuanced story that serves as a vehicle to deepen our understanding of society through everyday human drama.

A coming of age story that reveals the resilience of adolescent girls (5 GIRLS), a father determined to heal his daughter after a tragic accident (MAPPING STEM CELL RESEARCH: TERRA INCOGNITA) investigates the role of science in a democratic society, a young man, leaving foster care (WITH NO DIRECTION HOME) explores the challenges of trying to find one’s place in the world, a soccer coach committed to teaching his players – Hispanic girls – about winning in life (IN THE GAME), and a young couple, both working minimum wage jobs struggling to make ends meet while building a life for themselves and their children (HARD EARNED) are all films that explore different realms of storytelling by investigating the important social issues of the day.

Finitzo’s films have tackled a variety of subjects from the controversial science of stem cell research and the complex questions surrounding the command and control of nuclear weapons to the psychology of adolescent girls, each film demonstrating a depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise. She is a long time associate of the award-winning documentary company, Kartemquin Films, one of the oldest and most respected social issue documentary film companies in the country.  

Finitzo is also a screenwriter and fiction film director. In 2014, she founded Film Arts Productions, LLC a Chicago-based production company dedicated to producing independent fiction films. Her interest in fiction filmmaking is a natural evolution of her commitment to exploring different realms of storytelling.  THOSE LEFT BEHIND, her first feature film, from her original screenplay premiered at festivals throughout the country and is in distribution with Random Media and The Orchard.  Film Arts also has in development Finitzo’s next fiction film, A TASTE OF LIFE, an adaptation of the award-winning story Passion by Nobel Prize winning author Alice Munro. Finitzo is both the screenwriter and director. Most recently she optioned the intellectual property CLITERACY: The 100 Natural Laws to develop for episodic television. 

She is currently in production on THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE, a feature length documentary that explores female sexual desire through the lens of women’s equality.

Photo Credit: Joe Mazza – Brave Lux

Photo Credit: Joe Mazza – Brave Lux


PRODUCER: Diane Quon Academy Award-nominated producer, Diane Quon, worked as a marketing executive for 17 years at NBC and at Paramount Pictures  before moving back to her hometown of Chicago. Diane is producing multiple Kartemquin Films documentaries including the Oscar nominated, and Peabody and Sundance award-winning film, Minding the Gap directed by Bing Liu; Left-Handed Pianist along with Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich, and co-directed by Leslie Simmer and Gordon Quinn; The Dilemma of Desire with Peabody Award-winning director Maria Finitzo; and Finding Yingying with director Jiayan “Jenny” Shi.  She is also producing Down a Dark Stairwell directed by Ursula Liang. Diane is a 2017/2018 Film Independent Fellow and 2019 IFP Cannes Producer Fellow. She is also developing a fiction film based on a New York Times best-selling book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Diane Quon, Producer

PRODUCER: Cynthia Kane created DOCday on Sundance Channel, shepherded over 150 international and U.S. co-productions for public media at ITVS, and at Al Jazeera America was Senior Producer in the Documentary Unit overseeing Kartemquin’s series HARD EARNED (2016 Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award), Albert Maysles’ final work, IN TRANSIT, Leon Gast’s SPORTING DREAMS, Barbara Kopple’s SHELTER, Jennifer Maytorena Taylor’s DAISY AND MAX, Michelle Shephard and Patrick Reed’s GUANTANAMO’S CHILD, Marc Levin’s FREEWAY: CRACK IN THE SYSTEM among others. With gbgg productions and Les Film de l’Après Midi, Kane executive produced, NEW EYES, director: Hiwot Admasu Getaneh, (Venice, TIFF, Rotterdam.) Kane joined forces with former NYC Film Commissioner Cynthia Lopez as creative consultants for Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl's LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD about the extraordinary life and times of Gertrude Bell.

Cynthia Kane, Producer

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Barbara Kopple is a two-time Academy Award winning filmmaker. A director and producer of narrative films and documentaries, her most recent project was the documentary MISS SHARON JONES! which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015. The opening night film of DOC NYC, the film tracks the talented and gregarious soul singer of the Grammy-nominated R&B band, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, during the most challenging year of her life. Barbara produced and directed HARLAN COUNTY USA and AMERICAN DREAM, both winners of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. In 1991, HARLAN COUNTY USA was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress and designated an American Film Classic.


EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Hugh Schulze is a filmmaker living and working in Chicago. In addition to a documentary on Wendell Berry and two films he has helped produce by Ira Sachs (LOVE IS STRANGE and LITTLE MEN), he has written and directed the award-winning feature film, CASS. He is currently in preproduction for his second feature, DREAMING GRAND AVENUE.

Hugh Schulze, Executive Producer

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Gordon Quinn is the Artistic Director and co-founder of Kartemquin Films, where over the past 50+ years he has helped hundreds of documentary filmmakers advance their projects forward and been a leading champion of the rights of all documentary filmmakers. He is the 2015 recipient of the International Documentary Association Career Achievement Award and was a key leader in creating the Documentary Filmmakers Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use. His credits as director and producer include films as diverse and essential as '63 Boycott (2017), Inquiring Nuns (1966), Golub (1988), and A Good Man (2011),and as executive producer include Academy-Award nominated films Minding the Gap (2018), Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016), Hoop Dreams (1994), and the Emmy Award-winning The Interrupters (2011), The Trials of Muhammad Ali (2013), The Homestretch (2014), and Life Itself (2014), and the acclaimed limited series The New Americans (2003) and Hard Earned (2015).


EDITOR: Liz Kaar is an independent filmmaker and editor based in Chicago. She has worked closely with Chicago's documentary powerhouse Kartemquin Films for the last decade, and most recently co-directed and edited HARD EARNED, the company's six-part series about people living on low wages across the US, airing on Al Jazeera America. The series won a prestigious Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia Journalism Award in 2016 and was nominated for an IDA award. She is currently directing, producing, shooting and editing STRANDED BY THE STATE, a web series and TV miniseries, about the human cost of the almost two-year Illinois budget impasse, the longest a state has gone without a budget since the Great Depression. In the past, she edited and associate-produced the music documentary ANDREW BIRD: FEVER YEAR, festival-favorite ON BEAUTY, and was lead editor for the web series VETERANS COMING HOME. She also edited Kartemquin's TYPEFACE and IN THE GAME. Kaar was Director of Post-Production at Kartemquin Films from 2008-2012 and has also produced and directed non-profit videos for such organizations as the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Newberry Library. Fluent in Spanish, her next project will be completing her film THREADS about women engaged in a fair trade business together, connecting the mountainside communities of Guatemala to downtown Chicago.

Liz Kaar, Editor

CONSULTING EDITOR: Sabine Krayenbühl  is an award winning editor with over 20 theatrical documentaries and narrative features to her credit, many of which have premiered at prestigious festivals around the world. Her editing work includes Oscar and Independent Spirit Award nominated MY ARCHITECT for which she received an ACE Eddie Award nomination, MAD HIT BALLROOM,  THE BRIDGE, PICASSO AND BRAQUE GO TO THE MOVIES  produced by Martin Scorsese and SALINGER on which she consulted. Her directorial debut LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD voiced and exec-produced by award winning actress Tilda Swinton was released in the US and UK and will be broadcast on PBS in December 2018. She recently edited THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING which debuted at Sundance and is currently shown on HBO. She is an alumni of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a long-term member of New York Women in Film and Television.


KARTEMQUIN FILMS: Kartemquin is a collaborative community empowering documentary makers who create stories that foster a more engaged and just society. Sparking democracy through documentary since 1966, Kartemquin is internationally recognized for crafting quality documentaries backed by innovative community engagement.

The organization's films have received three Academy Award® nominations and won several major prizes, including five Emmys, two Peabody Awards, multiple Independent Spirit, IDA, PGA and DGA awards, and duPont-Columbia and Robert F. Kennedy journalism awards. Kartemquin is recognized as a leading advocate for independent documentary media, and has helped hundreds of artists via its filmmaker development programs that help further grow the field, such as KTQ Labs, Diverse Voices in Docs, and the acclaimed KTQ Internship. Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization based in Chicago.

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Aymar Jean "AJ" Christian Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University and a Fellow at the Peabody Media Center; Author, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television.

Eve Ensler American playwright (THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES); Performer, feminist, and activist.

Jessica Fields Professor of Sociology at the Center for Research and Education on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State; Author of Risky Lessons: Sex Education and Social Inequality.

Carol Gilligan NYU Professor, American feminist, ethicist and psychologist; author of “In a Different Voice” credited with inspiring the passage of the 1994 Gender Equity in Education Act.

Mara Gubuan is a human rights activist using the platform of sport and the power of athletes to change laws and culture worldwide. Mara is a film producer ("Afghan Cycles") and social impact strategist ("Warriors of a Beautiful Game" and "Strong GIRL RISING").

Frances Kissling Scholar and activist in the fields of religion, reproduction and women's rights; President of the Center for Health, Ethics and Social Policy and previous President of Catholics for Choice.

Shelby Knox Feminist organizer; Outreach Director for AUDRIE AND DAISY; Subject of 2005 film, THE EDUCATION OF SHELBY KNOX.

Cynthia Lopez Executive Director, New York Women in Film and Television; Creative Strategic Consultant; Former Commissioner at New York City Mayor's Officer of Media and Entertainment.

Lisa L. Moore, LICSW, PhD is an Associate Professor of Social Work and Family Studies at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota where she teaches courses in human sexuality, Black Feminist theory, and Family Studies. 

Nicole Page Partner (Entertainment and Employment Law) at Reavis Page Jump LLC; President of the Board of Women Make Movies.

Catherine Park has been with Giant Robot magazine & stores for over a decade. She is a principal of Hawkins Mikita, a social innovation firm dedicated to develop the intersection of influencers, philanthropy, and social change. In 2008 and 2012, Cate was a member of President Obama’s National Finance Committee and has served as National Co-Chair for the AAPI Leadership Council, Women for Obama, and Tech for Obama.

Junauda Petrus is a writer, pleasure activist, filmmaker and performance artist, born on Dakota land of Black-Caribbean descent. Her work is about queerness, Black-diasporic-futurism, ancestral healing and liberation. She lives in Minneapolis with her wife and family.

Katha Politt American poet, essayist and critic; Author of four essay collections (Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism) and two books of poetry; columnist for The Nation magazine.

Dr. Nabeela Rasheed Senior leader at Abbvie, Inc.; activist and advocate for the PRIDE group, Asian Leadership Network and Legal Council for Health Justice.

Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer. She travels in this and other countries as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of equality.

Deborah L. Tolman, Ed.D. Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Hunter College; Professor of Psychology, The Graduate Center at the City University of New York; Co-Editor-in-Chief (with L. Diamond), APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology; Co-Founder, SPARK

Yvonne Welbon is Senior Creative Consultant at Chicken & Egg Pictures. She is an award-winning filmmaker and founder of the Chicago-based non-profit Sisters in Cinema and has produced and distributed over 20 films including Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @100, winner of ten best documentary awards and Sisters in Cinema, a documentary on the history of black women feature film directors.

Jenny Yang is an award-winning, Los Angeles-based standup comedian, content creator, podcast host, comedy festival organizer, speaker, and professional opinion-haver best known for her viral comedy videos and satirical pop culture and political commentary.




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