2015 Chicago Documentary Summit

October 3-4, 2015

Chicago Filmmakers

5243 North Clark Street

Chicago, IL 60640


The Documentary Summit is thrilled to come back to one of our favorite places in the world - Chicago! This time around we're going to delve more into storytelling - both from how to construct a great one to the new methods and technical aspects of getting your project out into the world. It should be a fantastic time with some of The Windy City's best. Click below to see the presenters and then come on out and meet them!



Promotional Partners

2015 Speakers (more to be added)

Nicole Bernardi-Reis

Nicole has produced television series and films for a wide range of broadcast outlets including A&E, E!/Style, HGTV and the Science Channel. With Montrose Pictures she has produced Algren, a feature length documentary that received its world premiere at the 2014 Chicago International Film Festival. She credits her passion for storytelling to the nuns at her Adrian Dominican high school, who taught her to always seek the truth and broadcast it as far as you can.

Shuli Eshel

Israeli born Chicago filmmaker is an award winning filmmaker of groundbreaking documentaries with a feminist consciousness dealing with the arts, politics, social and historical subjects. Among her documentaries are To be a Woman-Soldier, the first documentary to explode the myth of equality between the sexes in Israel that premiered at the MOMA in 1981, Women’s Peace in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian women in the forefront of the Peace effort,  Illinois Women Artist: the New Millennium, that premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and N. Gutman, the life and work of Israeli artist Nahum Gutman that is permanently exhibited at the Gutman Museum in Tel-Aviv since 2000.   Ms. Eshel is former president of IFP/Midwest, the independent film organization. She is president of Cavalcade Communications in Chicago, a full-service video/film production company and operates Eshel Productions.  She has been on the film and television faculties at Columbia College and Roosevelt University in Chicago, and the Tel-Aviv Museum and College of Design in Israel. Ms. Eshel holds a B.A. in English & American Literature and Linguistics from Tel-Aviv University and a Master of Fine Arts in Film and Television from Hornsey College of Art, London, England.


Maria Finitzo

Maria is a two-time Peabody award winning social-issue documentary filmmaker. She has been producing and directing documentary films for network television, public broadcasting, cable TV and the Internet for more than 25 years. Her body of work has been honored by every major broadcast award granted to documentary films. Ms. Finitzo’s films demonstrate a depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise, tackling a wide variety of subjects including the controversial science of stem cell research, the command and control of nuclear weapons on an international level, and the complex psychology of adolescent girls.

In 1994, she won her first George Foster Peabody Award as a Producer for The New Explorers, a PBS series profiling ground breaking scientific exploration. The series, produced by Kurtis Productions, was nominated for a national Emmy and went on to win numerous broadcast awards, including The Ohio State Award, The Chicago International Film Festival Gold Plaque and the CINE Golden Eagle Award.

In 1995, Ms. Finitzo became an associate of Kartemquin Films. As an associate of Kartemquin, she received her first production grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1995 to produce 5 Girls. The film was a special presentation of the PBS non- fiction series P.O.V and premiered on national public television in the fall of 2001. 5 Girls was awarded the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence from The Council on Foundations, The Silver Award from The Chicago Film & Television Competition and an award for Outstanding Achievement from the Parent's Guide to Children's Media.

In 2002, she began work on her second documentary produced in collaboration with Kartemquin Films. Production began on Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita with a significant production grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Completed in 2007, Terra Incognita was screened in competition at many festivals including: The International Documentary Film Festival – Amsterdam (IDFA), The Chicago International Film Festival, The New Zealand International Film Festival, The Council on Foundations Film Festival, The 3rd Intl. Science Film Festival – Greece, The Kos International Film Festival, and the Coruna Science Festival and Mostra de Ciencia e Cinema – Spain. Terra Incognita was awarded, the Chicago Hugo Award by The Chicago International Film Festival, an Honorable Mention at DOCNZ, New Zealand’s International Documentary Film Festival, two 2nd place jury awards at Mostra de Ciencia e Cinema in Spain, Best Feature Documentary from the Kos International Film Festival and the 2008 George Foster Peabody Award for Broadcast Excellence. The film was broadcast nationally in January of 2008 as part of the Independent Lens series on PBS.   Chosen by the Independent Television Service to be a part of their Community Cinema Program, the film was shown theatrically in more than 70 different markets.  Terra Incognita has also been broadcast in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Spain and Sweden.

In 2007, she was selected by Sundance Institute to be a 2007 Sundance Documentary Fellow for the 2007 Independent Sundance Producer’s Conference.

Most recently, she received an Illinois Humanities Council grant and an Illinois Arts Council grant to begin work on her next documentary film, In the Game, a film that examines the impact of Title IX on women’s sports and the broader questions of inclusion and exclusion, fairness and tradition, principle and compromise, and level playing fields in all walks of life. She also has received a Development Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for Encounters with the Other, a film that will examine the lives of the Tsimané people who live in the lowlands of Bolivia as they struggle to transition to the modern world.

As an Associate of Kartemquin Films, Maria has mentored emerging filmmakers, supported student learning through our robust internship program and engaged the public in the range of issues her films address through the national outreach campaigns that accompany them. Each of her films produced in collaboration with Kartemquin Films has been the centerpiece for major symposiums. They are used by universities across the country as teaching tools and have been the focus of targeted community screenings both nationally and internationally. As a board member of Kartemquin Films, she provides institutional leadership, ensuring the longevity of the organization and the fulfillment of its mission to develop documentary film as a vehicle to deepen our understanding of society through everyday human drama.

Melody Gilbert

Melody is an independent documentary filmmaker and film professor who has directed, shot, produced, (and sometimes edited) six independent feature-length documentaries since 2002: Married at the Mall (2002), Whole (2003), A Life Without Pain (2005), Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness (2007) and Fritz: The Walter Mondale Story. (2008). She is the executive producer of Disconnected (2008), NUMB (2011), American Heart (2014), and the producer of the award-winning film The Starfish Throwers (2014), which was named “The Most Heartwarming Documentary of 2014” by the Huffington Post.  Recently, she co-directed first 3D documentary made in Bulgaria Steps in the Fire (2015) and she is currently in post-production as producer/writer on Women Outward Bound and as director/producer/cinematographer of the “The Summer Help.” All of Melody’s films have screened at prestigious film festivals around the world and have been broadcast internationally and been featured on Netflix and iTunes. Melody moved to Chicago in May 2015 where is currently on leave from teaching filmmaking and journalism at the American University in Bulgaria. 

Jerry Glover

Jerry is a partner in Leavens, Strand, & Glover, LLC.  He has represented individuals and companies in various entertainment industries for over 30 years.  His areas of concentration also include copyright, trademark, publishing, promotions (including sweepstakes and other contests), sponsorships, web sites and related internet law matters.  He is listed as a “Notable Practitioner” in Chambers USA in the field of media and entertainment law/Illinois.


Jerry represents a variety of clients in the entertainment industry including motion picture studios, independent television and film producers, television and film production companies, Broadway producers, choreographers, talk show hosts, directors, musicians and writers.  He has counseled film producers regarding film production issues and investor matters, corporate tie-ins, product placements as well as web development agreements for film-related web sites.  He also represents television producers in connection with series-related promotions, and serves as production and compliance counsel for various nationally-broadcast reality television series.


Prior to joining Leavens, Strand, & Glover, LLC, Jerry was Senior Counsel for The Entertainment and Intellectual Property Group, LLC, a law firm concentrating in entertainment, copyright and trademark matters.  He has also served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel to Chicago’s public television station, WTTW, as well as that company’s commercial radio station, WFMT.   In addition to entertainment and intellectual property matters, His work as the station’s General Counsel included FCC issues (e.g., station licensing, tower licensing negotiations, non-commercial television station underwriting), personnel and talent union issues, First Amendment rights, contest and other promotion regulations, production and talent contracts, home video licensing, cable broadcast licensing, video on demand licensing and Internet licenses; and corporate matters.  Jerry continues to serve as outside counsel to both stations.

Bob Hercules

Bob is an independent filmmaker and co-owner of Media Process Group - a Chicago-based production company. Hercules' work has been seen widely on PBS, Discovery Channel, IFC, The Learning Channel and in film festivals around the world.

Currently, Hercules is co-directing/co-producing the feature documentary, Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet, for the PBS series American Masters. Remarkably, this will be the very first film about the acclaimed writer/performer/activist. The film will air on PBS in 2016.

Hercules is also the co-Executive Producer and segment director of The School

Project documentary web series. The six-part series examines the fallout resulting

from the historic 2013 school closings in Chicago. The series has been broadcast on

WTTW, Chicago.

Hercules’ two recent films both focus on dance: Joffrey: Mavericks of American

Dance and Bill T. Jones: A Good Man. The Joffrey film, narrated by Mandy

Patinkin, tells the full story of the groundbreaking ballet company and their many

rises and falls. It premiered in January, 2012 at the Dance on Camera Film Festival at

Lincoln Center and aired on PBS’ American Masters December, 2012. A Good

Man aired on American Masters in 2011 and played at many film festivals including

IDFA, Silverdocs, Full Frame, DOXA and the Southern Circuit.

His 2009 documentary, Radical Disciple: The Story of Father Pfleger, chronicles

the radical priest whose controversial tactics to fight racism put him at odds with the

Catholic hierarchy. The film was named Best Documentary at the 2009 Big Muddy

Film Festival and was the opening night film at the 2009 Black Harvest Film

Festival. It was broadcast on WTTW, Chicago in 2010.

In 2008 Hercules directed the Barack Obama and Michelle Obama biography videos

for Obama's Presidential campaign website . He also directed Obama's 2007

Presidential announcement video in Springfield, Illinois. Hercules' 2006

documentary, Senator Obama Goes to Africa, is a chronicle of Obama's momentous

2006 trip to Africa, including an emotional visit to Kisumu, Kenya--homeland of his

late father. It is currently in home video release from First Run Features.

Hercules' acclaimed 2006 feature documentary, Forgiving Dr. Mengele, tells the

remarkable story of Auschwitz survivor and former 'Mengele twin' Eva Mozes Kor,

whose decision to forgive the perpetrators as an act of self-healing sparked a

firestorm of criticism. The film won the Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Slamdance

Film Festival and the Crystal Heart Award at the 2006 Heartland Film Festival. It is

currently in home video release from First Run Features.

Greg Jacobs

Greg is the co-founder, with Jon Siskel, of Chicago-based Siskel/Jacobs Productions, one of the production partners on The School Project. 

SJP has produced documentaries for the National Geographic Channel, Discovery, and History, including the Emmy-winning specials

102 Minutes That Changed America and Witness: Katrina. Greg and Jon also co-directed and co-produced the acclaimed feature doc

Louder Than a Bomb, and are currently at work on multiple projects, from a film about early childhood education to a portrait of the artist

Nick Cave.

Anuradha Rana

Anuradha's passion for finding and telling stories has inspired her work as a Journalist, TV Producer, Social Worker, Writer, and Filmmaker over the last 15 years. . Her award-winning films have screened internationally and focus on themes of representation, identity, and varied perspectives in a global environment. She has produced, directed, and wielded camera on documentaries filmed in India, Ecuador, Japan, South Africa and the USA. She is exploring storytelling through transmedia in For The Records, an interactive documentary created with game designer, Doris Rusch, about young adults and mental health. Her newest film in production is The Language of Opportunity, exploring the role that English plays

Nat Soti

Nat is the Founder and Principal of Zero One Projects, a video communications company, and Co-Founder and Connected Works Project Director at the Chicago Art Department, a non-profit arts organization.

As Zero One Projects, Nat produces work for non-profits, foundations, cultural institutions and other mission-driven. Nat has produced work that has touched on issues of social justice, Asian American issues, community development, healthcare, education and art.   Clients have ranged from community-based organizations to the MacArthur Foundation and Chicago History Museum.  Recent notable projects includes producing videos for the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s “Skyline Stories”, The Chicago History Museum’s “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair” Exhibit, and a series of videos about education and technology as part of the book, “Tap, Click, Read”, by Lisa Guernsey.   

With the Connected Works project at Chicago Art Department, Nat received funding from the MacArthur Foundation to create video and design based works that promote Connected Learning and the Cities of Learning initiative.  This includes documentary style videos, promotional web and social media videos, and video and design presentation assets.   

Nat graduated from Georgetown University with a BA in Political Science and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with an MFA in Visual Communications.  Before working in video and design Nat co-founded interCITIES and Outersound.com, a music industry web design and content company.

Jeff Spitz

Jeff is an Emmy Award-winner who creates original documentaries for broadcast on PBS and cable. His credits as a writer/producer/director include: The Return of Navajo Boy, an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and PBS which has won awards at film festivals internationally and received special recognition from the US EPA and the US Dept of Energy for raising awareness and impacting public policies concerning uranium contamination in the Navajo Nation; From the Bottom Up, a one-hour, national PBS public affairs report about community activism; The Roosevelt Experiment, a Black History Month documentary for ABC-TV telling the story of an integrated college in a segregated city; and America’s Libraries Change Lives, celebrating the immigrant experience in America’s public libraries, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg.  Jeff’s new documentary, Food Patriots, is a funny personal film about raising his own chickens and trying to change America’s relationship to food.  A California native and graduate of UCLA, Jeff holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Chicago.  He is an Associate Professor of documentary film at Columbia College Chicago. Along with his wife Jennifer, he is the co-founder of Groundswell Educational Films, a non-profit organization that creates documentary films and ongoing social impact campaigns.

Beckie Stocchetti

Beckie is responsible for managing many of the educational programs and outreach initiatives of the organization including Diverse Voices in Docs, KTQ Labs, the KTQ Internship program, and classroom, media policy, and production outreach initiatives. She works to build successful strategies for providing producers with critical advice and support around audience engagement, social impact, and fundraising throughout the production and distribution process. 


Prior to joining Kartemquin in 2014, Beckie worked as the Program Director of Chicago Filmmakers, a 40 year old non-profit film services organization in Andersonville. While at Chicago Filmmakers, Beckie grew the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund initiative, doubling the yearly grant award and initiating advanced educational workshops and panels to film and media makers in Chicago. She also worked to secure the new Firehouse Cinema location for the organization in Edgewater, manage the yearly educational programs, curate a weekly screening series, ran operations of the Reeling Film Festival, and was responsible for overseeing the fiscal sponsorship projects, membership program, networking events, internship program, and PR & Marketing. 


Beckie comes back to Chicago from Hawaii, where she worked as the Assistant Film Curator at the Doris Duke Theatre | Honolulu Museum of Arts, an independent film theatre at the only fine arts museum in the state. At the Doris, she coordinated a progressive monthly screening series featuring prominent artists, scholars and activists in conversation with the community. She also ran the projection department at the Hawaii International Film Festival from 2009-2012 in addition to serving on their film selection committee. She worked briefly as the Assistant Theatre Manager at IFC Theatre in West Village, NYC in 2012. 


Beckie has a degree from the University of Chicago in Cinema and Media Studies with an emphasis on contemporary political documentaries and spectator theory. Her minor is in identity theory and gender studies. Beckie currently serves on the Advisory Boards for Elephant and Worm Theater Company, Reeling Film Festival, and Cinema/Chicago (Chicago International Film Festival Education programs). She also serves as the Director of Development and Education at the Hawaii International Film Festival; programs independent, local, and experimental film throughout Chicago with The Nightingale Cinema/Constellation Chicago and the City of Chicago Parks Department; and is a Co-Curator of Full Spectrum Features' Chicagoland Shorts series. She is a self-proclaimed tech/data nerd, and strives to be a bridge between artists and techies. Beckie recently spoke about Data Visualization at Smart Chicago Collaborative's Chicago School of Data Days conference, and presented on big data metrics in documentary impact measurement at Social Good Tech Week in San Francisco.


Debra Tolchinsky

Debra is the director of Northwestern University’s MFA in documentary media program and associate professor of radio/television/film, is a documentary filmmaker, multidisciplinary artist, and curator whose work has been seen internationally at such venues as the Sundance Film Festival, The John F. Kennedy Center, The Gene Siskel Film Center, and the Supreme Court Institute. She is currently working on a new documentary concerning the complexities of memory, restorative justice and forgiveness. Fast Talk, her most recently completed documentary available on iTunes captures the intensity, drive, and absurdity of the mile-a-minute world of college debaters as they speak at speeds exceeding 500 words per minute. Winner of numerous awards, Fast Talk was named best documentary at the LA Femme International Film Festival, best documentary feature at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, and best documentary at the Iowa Film Festival and has been discussed in such publications as the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Reader, the National LawJournal, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Onion A.V. Club. A Northwestern faculty member since 2006, she won a 2010 Clarence Simon Award for Teaching Excellence. Tolchinsky received an AB from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and a BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Floyd Webb

Born in the city of Clarksdale, in the Mississippi Delta and raised on Chicago's South and West side. Floyd Webb's background includes global work in cinema, photojournalism, publishing and advertising. All experiences that contribute to his convergence skills as a producer, designer and consultant for the Internet.

His past work includes; associate producer of the award winning Julie Dash Film, Daughters of the Dust(US 1992); local producer of the American Masters film, The World of Nat King Cole (2006); producer and director of music videos, short documentaries, and 3D animations project.

Webb has worked with filmmakers such as John Akomfrah, St. Clair Bourne, Jean Pierre Bekolo and Spike Lee doing research and production work on documentary, commercials, drama and short films. Most recently he has assisted director John Akomfrah on a BBC/ITVS documentary on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

He has produced 3D animation effects for a Wesley Snipes' Amen Ra Films produced documentary featuring Egyptologist Josef Ben Jochanna; Jazz group 8 Bold Souls: Last Option, a DVD project for Thrill Jockey Records; designed and implemented an interactive animated project for the New Caledonia Office de Poste et Telecommunications in Noumea, New Caledonia, South Pacific for Sofrecom/France Telecom. He has done production work for Big Idea (http://bigidea.com), Larry Boy series.

Working in London, UK, Webb was partnered with new media start-ups Studio Blank, headed by music producer David M. Allen (The CURE) in the stylish Fitzrovia area developing new media projects for various bands and also worked with the 3D animation house MESH Interactive in Battersea as a project manager and sales associate with designers such as Tom Hamlyn, Max McMullin and the well-known Dave McKean. At MESH, he co-produced and co-directed Julie Dash's 10-minute short Digital Diva, based upon her original screenplay.

He has worked as a consultant in film programming and online issues for The Raindance Festival of Independent Cinema in London, The Zanzibar International Film Festival, and The Black Filmmaker Magazine Film Festival in London (http://blackfilmmakermag.com).

Web founded and was creative director of the Blacklight Festival of International Black Cinema. From 1982-1995 the festival was one of the most critically acclaimed festivals of it's kind.

He has lectured on African American Cinema History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and on Convergence and New Media at the London School of Printing and the Institute of Contemporary Art. In summer of 2004, he presented a lecture and screening on Blaxploitation film trailers at the Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago.

Presently, Floyd is Creative Director and founder of e22 Digital(http://itutu.com), a multimedia company, working as producer/director of TV commercials, music videos and producing for foreign film crews in Chicago. Most recently he is completing a film on the social history of martial arts in America titled "The Search for Count Dante" and is co-producing Space Race, the story of the first 2 black astronauts.