Betsy Steinberg Named New Leader of Documentary Collective Kartemquin Films

Betsy Steinberg xecutive Director Documentary Maker
Courtesy of Kartemquin Films

The company behind “Hoop Dreams,” “Life Itself” and other documentaries has named its new executive director: Betsy Steinberg.

Steinberg takes over on Dec. 1 at Kartemquin Films, the award-winning non-profit documentary production collective. She most recently served as managing director of the Illinois Film Office, helping boost the industry during a time of growth in that state.

She will oversee all of Kartemquin’s operations and be executive producer on all of the outfit’s films. Steinberg succeeds Justine Nagan, who recently was named executive director of American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) and executive producer of “POV” (Point of View), the documentary series that airs regularly on PBS.

Kartemquin co-founder Gordon Quinn remains with the organization as artistic director. “Of all the candidates, Betsy immediately demonstrated the ethics and passion we know Kartemquin needs,” said board chair  Jason Stephens, “and we are confident she will lead the staff and filmmakers to meet the challenges ahead while maintaining the values we have represented for five decades.”

The documentary film maker received acclaim and multiple awards for “Hoop Dreams,” the tale of two young African-Americans trying to make it in college basketball and in life. Kartemquin also produced “The Interrupters,” and “Life Itself” on film critic Roger Ebert.

Steinberg thanked the board and said she looked forward to continuing Kartemquin’s legacy. In her last job, she received credit for turning Illinois into a major destination for filmmakers. During her tenure Illinois brought in over a billion dollars in film industry spending and created thousands of jobs.

The move to Kartemquin represents a return to the documentary world.  Steinberg served for two years as the vice president of business development at Towers Productions and for  nearly 15 years as a writer, producer, director working on a wide-range of material, from television documentaries and commercials to political and issue advocacy campaigns. She received a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Kartemquin soon plans to announce special plans for marking its 50th anniversary.