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Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas

Stream free Kartemquin documentaries all year

Written by
Laura Rote

You probably know Kartemquin Films for Hoop Dreams or, more recently, the beautiful and stirring Life Itself, which tells Roger Ebert’s life story. The Chicago-based documentary film center has more than 50 films to its name, and you can stream these award-winning docs and more for free as part of the not-for-profit’s 50th anniversary.

Free streaming started January 1 with Kartemquin’s first film, Home for Life (1966), which tells the story of two elderly people in their first month in an assisted-care home. You can stream a new Kartemquin documentary here each week, from Inquiring Nuns (1968) beginning January 8 (in which two young nuns wander Chicago asking people, “Are you happy?”) to new films like Raising Bertie at the end of 2016. Like Hoop Dreams, Raising Bertie is a long-term study conducted over many years of its subjects’ lives. This doc follows three young African-American men living in rural poverty as they finish high school and transition into adulthood. “It’s a beautiful looking film but quite heavy in terms of its content,” says Tim Horsburgh, director of communications and distribution for Kartemquin. 

Kartemquin will also celebrate its 50th anniversary with special events like a June gala and an upcoming art exhibit (May 20–August 20) of old photos, video and film equipment at Expo 72.

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