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As a godfather of Chicago social issue documentary, Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films was an early inspiration and advisor to Bob Hercules and his partners when they founded their documentary/commercial production company Media Process Group 25 years ago. Since then the two filmmakers have become sounding boards for one another, and now their first full collaboration comes to fruition.
Quinn and Hercules codirected A Good Man, a documentary about Tony-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones’s (Fela!) commissioned Lincoln bicentennial dance premiere Fondly Do We Hope. . .Fervently Do We Pray at Ravinia. A preview excerpt of A Good Man screens tonight at the Gene Siskel Film Center, as part of a retrospective of the work of Hercules and Media Process Group.
In A Good Man, the filmmakers look at America’s racial legacy against the optimism of Obama’s election, through the eyes of Jones, who in his dance explores his ambivalent relationship to Lincoln, whom he’s previously regarded as “the only white man he was ever allowed to love unconditionally.”
Also screening are excerpts from some of Hercules’s other explorations of mostly Chicago iconoclasts: Bill Veeck and Studs Terkel in Baseball’s Heirlooms (1989), Saul Alinsky in The Democratic Promise (1999), Eva Kor in Forgiving Dr. Mengele (2006), a certain political upstart in Senator Obama Goes to Africa (2007), and Rev. Michael Pfleger in Radical Disciple (2009).
The Media Process Group Anniversary Retrospective is tonight 8:15 p.m. at the Film Center, 164 N. State St. There's also an excerpt screening and panel discussion featuring Quinn, in the Chicago Humanities Festival, Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center Claudia Cassidy Theater, 77 E. Randolph.