In The News

$225,000 MacArthur grants to education issue docs

This article originally appeared in Reel Chicago

Two proposed documentaries about the crisis in Chicago public education received prestigious MacArthur Foundation Grants.    They were among 18 projects that shared $2 million in funding the Foundation awarded to films covering a range of important contemporary social issues.

The $125,000 grant went to Media Process Educational Films, Media Process Group’s non profit for the documentary “The School Project,” as it’s titled for now.  The MacArthur funding  goes towards an ultimate budget of $400,000

Kartemquin Films’ “In the Game,” produced and directed by Maria Finitzo was awarded $100,000.

MPG’s Bob Hercules, who serves as project director and executive producer, is one of nine filmmakers involved “this unprecedented collaboration.” They will be part of the team, currently being organized among them to start the production process. 

The doc was the idea of Jon Siskel and Greg Jacobs, of award-winning Siskel Jacobs Productions,‎ who brought the project to Hercules and his partner, Keith Walker.

MPG reached out to Kartemquin’s Gordon Quinn, who also serves as EP, who attached Rachel Dickson, a former Kartemquin intern, who had been working on a similar project.

Danny Alpert’s The Kindling Group came aboard, as did Jeff McCarter’s Free Spirit Media, many of whose students were affected by the school closings, and editor Melissa Sterne, an MPG associate who will serve as post supervisor.

They started the doc the end of March last year, when the issue of school closings heated up, Hercules says.  Working with a $10,000 grant from the Dreihaus Foundation, they wrote a treatment and made a trailer.  “We realized how important this issue is and broadened it to the larger issue of public education in America.”

They anticipate raising the additional $300,000 needed through other grant sources.

Peabody-winner director Finitzo has been filming“In the Game” for three years, following the experiences and aspirations of Latina girls at Kelly High School on the South Side, the importance of soccer in their lives and the obstacles facing low-income students in their quest for higher education.

Initial funding for “In the Game” was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council and the Illinois Humanities Council.