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This year, Doc Chicago will unfold as a free hybrid event on Fri, Nov 5–Sun, Nov 7. Friday afternoon’s sessions and Sunday’s Grant Writing Workshop will be held online, while an in-person gathering will take place on Saturday, Nov 6 at the Chicago Cultural Center. Pre-registration for both online and in-person admission is required via Eventbrite (link will be added shortly).

We are excited to include the following in-person film screenings to our program this year: a short documentary showcase co-presented with Chicago Filmmakers on Saturday evening, Nov 6, and a co-presentation of Meredith Zielke and Yoni Goldstein’s A Machine to Live In as part of the Chicago Underground Film Festival on Sun, Nov 7 (see full descriptions below). Please note: separate admission to screenings applies.



Saturday’s daytime program will be held in person at the Chicago Cultural Center, Studio Theater (first floor), 78 E. Washington Street, downtown Chicago. Find directions here.

10am: Welcome + Roundtables

Join our topic-driven version of “speed-dating”! Each corner of the room will have one or two presenters who will engage in small group conversations about a specific topic (e.g. documentary producing, sound for docs, or editing). At the ten minute mark, audience members will be asked to move to a different corner to engage with another presenter and topic. This will be a fun way to meet new people while learning from other filmmakers. Tip: bring your business cards!

Among the presenters will be documentary producers Nevo Shinaar and Fenell Doremus, accessible media advocate and documentary editor Matt Lauterbach (For the Left Hand), and more.

11am: Spotlight Presentations 1

Brief Spotlight presentations give local filmmakers and organizations a chance to share about a new film project they’re working on, a program they organize, or another documentary-specific topic. We encourage you to seek out the Spotlight speakers during the break to ask them follow-up questions. Presenters throughout the day will include: Fenell Doremus, Documentary Producers Alliance; Latoya Flowers (Still Searching); Edwin Ruiz (Pico); Emmet Adler, Video Consortium; Ruth Leitman, Ruthless Films; Gordon Quinn, Kartemquin Films; and Liliane Clafee, DePaul/CHA Youth Programs.

11:30am: Exploring the Archives

Who gets to decide which media projects are worth preserving? Are you working with communities whose perspectives and history are rarely represented? Whether you’re a filmmaker who is interested in sourcing archival footage or want to preserve your own work, bring your questions to our speakers: filmmaker Alex Halkin, Chiapas Media Project; Sara Chapman, Media Burn Archive; and Justin Williams, Southside Home Movie Project.

12:15pm Lunch break – bring your own lunch or visit close-by restaurants for a quick bite.


1pm: Spotlight Presentations 2


1:15pm: On Collaboration: A Conversation With Judy Hoffman

In the 1970s, Judy Hoffman was active in the Alternative Television Movement experimenting with small format video equipment. After assisting French ethnographer and filmmaker Jean Rouch, she became deeply influenced by cinéma vérité and the idea of shared anthropology. Hoffman played a major role in the formation of Chicago’s Kartemquin Films as an original collective member, camera assistant on their early films, and Associate Producer for Golub. Hoffman was the first woman Camera Assistant in Chicago, worked on feature films and numerous PBS series. A major focus of her work has been with the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation of British Columbia, producing films and videos about the reclaiming of Native culture. For over ten years, Hoffman directed a video training program on the N’amgis Reserve so that the Kwakwaka’wakw could create their own videos. Hoffman is a Professor of Practice in the Arts in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago.

2pm: Beyond the Single Screen

How can we bring a documentary sensibility to work that reaches beyond the single plane of our computers, TVs, or cinema screens? Hear about the artistic process behind the work of some highly creative Chicago media artists!

When Latoya Flowers doesn’t work on her documentary Still Searching, she serves as the Senior Multimedia Creative at the Field Museum, where she collaborates with exhibit designers, content developers, illustrators, motion graphic artists, and lighting designers to create immersive multimedia experiences for traveling and permanent exhibitions.


Chicago filmmakers Salome Chasnoff (Code of the Freaks) and Meredith Zielke (A Machine to Live In) will discuss their collaborative project Present Absence, a deeply moving five-channel video installation that honors the lives of people who were killed by Chicago Police. Based on interviews with family members, the installation invites viewers to sit down amongst the mourners to encounter those who were murdered not as cases or statistics but as full human beings.


2:45pm: Spotlight Presentations 3


3:15pm: Community Conversation: What Do We Need?

When we recently surveyed filmmakers who had attended the first DOC CHICAGO gathering in 2019, many responded that they wanted to connect with other filmmakers in person, which is no surprise after the isolating experience of the pandemic. How do we move forward as a relatively fractured community of media artists? What do we need from each other as a community and individually? How can we contribute to making the documentary field more equitable and anti-racist? This facilitated discussion will include opportunities to speak to each other in smaller breakout groups. Our discussion will be facilitated by Akilah Martin, PhD, an educator and consultant, who hosts the podcast Roots Watering Hole.


4:30pm Closing Comments + Social Time!

7pm: DOC CHICAGO Short Film Showcase

Chicago Filmmakers, 1326 W. Hollywood Ave, Chicago

Join us for a thought-provoking sampler of Chicago-produced short documentaries by both established and next generation filmmakers. Featuring short films by Naeema Torres, Lily Freeston, Anna Lee Ackerman, and others. Q+A with the filmmakers to follow the screening. Thanks to Chicago Filmmakers for once again collaborating with us!

Event Details
11. 06. 2021
10:00 am - 9:00 pm