Our students have taken master classes, attended events, and rubbed shoulders with documentary luminaries such as Frederick Wiseman (Titicut Follies), Joshua Oppenheimer (The Act of Killing), Steve James (Hoop Dreams), Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson) and Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro). And next generation filmmakers like Lyric Cabral ((T)error), Nicolás Pereda (Summer of Goliath), Lisandro Alonso (Jauja), Athina Rachel Tsangari (Chevalier), Margaret Brown (The Great Invisible), Chris Brown (Fanny, Annie & Dannie), Penny Lane (Our Nixon), Patrick Bresnan & Ivette Lucas (Rabbit Hunt), Tala Hadid (House in the Fields), Gu Tao (The Last Moose of Aoluguya) and Jennifer Reeder (Signature Move) have visited our classes and shared their work with us. Interviews with a number of visiting artists are featured on our program’s YouTube channel. We are able to host many of these artists due to the generous support of the Hoffman Visiting Artist Fund.
In addition to Northwestern faculty, we also invite highly regarded practitioners to teach specialized courses on topics such as pre-production, editing, or outreach and distribution strategies.
Michael Attie (former faculty)
Mike Attie’s feature documentary In Country had its world premiere at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and international premiere at Hot Docs in Toronto. Attie’s previous work has shown at major film festivals including SilverDocs, San Francisco International and the Black Maria Film + Video Festival. He is a 2013 Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellow and was named one of The Independent‘s “10 Filmmakers to Watch in 2014.” Attie is now Assistant Professor at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and was the first Associate Director of our MFA in Documentary Media program.
Maria Finitzo is a two-time Peabody Award-winning social-issue documentary filmmaker. She has been producing and directing documentaries for network television, public broadcasting, and cable TV for more than 25 years. Maria is a 2007 Sundance Documentary Fellow and her films have won major broadcast awards and garnered extensive grant support from both private and government foundations. Her documentaries include 5 Girls, Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita, In the Game, and the fiction feature film Those Left Behind.
Tim Horsburgh is the Director of Communications and Distribution for Chicago’s legendary production company Kartemquin Films. He has led audience building campaigns for award-winning films including Life Itself, The Interrupters, The Homestretch, Almost There, No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, and many more. His distribution strategies for these films have included top-tier festival premieres; domestic and international theatrical releases, domestic and international broadcasts, worldwide digital releases, as well as the development of impact campaigns that have reached millions of viewers and organizations.
Steve James is the renowned filmmaker behind many award-winning documentaries, including the groundbreaking Hoop Dreams (1994), for which he served as director, producer, and co-editor. Hoop Dreams was recently selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, signifying the film’s enduring importance to American film history, and hailed by critic Roger Ebert as “the great American documentary.” Since Hoop Dreams, Steve has become one of the most acclaimed documentary makers of his generation, with noted works being Stevie, The New Americans, The War Tapes, At the Death House Door, The Interrupters, Life Itself, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, and the forthcoming America to Me series.
Bill Siegel has more than 20 years of experience in documentary filmmaking and education. He directed the Emmy Award-winning The Trials of Muhammad Ali and co-directed the Academy Award-nominated The Weather Underground; was a researcher on the documentary films Muhammad Ali: The Whole Story and Hoop Dreams; and was a writer on One Love, a documentary on the cultural history of basketball by Leon Gast (When We Were Kings).
Lindsay Utz is a documentary film editor. Her most recent film, Quest (dir. Jonathan Olshefski), is a longitudinal portrait of a family from North Philadelphia, ten years in the making. Quest premiered at Sundance in 2017 to critical acclaim. The film went on to win top prizes at multiple festivals, and critic Amy Taubin did a cover story on it for Artforum. Quest will have its 2018 television broadcast on POV. Lindsay is currently nominated for a Cinema Eye Honors editing award for her work on the film.
Her other credits include the Oscar-shortlisted Bully (Tribeca FF 2011), First Position (TIFF 2011), Buoy (Ashland FF 2013), In Country (Full Frame 2014), two Emmy-nominated FRONTLINE episodes (PBS 2015/2016) and multiple shorts for the New York Times. Lindsay’s current project, with Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, is in post-production.
J. Christian Jensen (former faculty)
J. Christian Jensen is a filmmaker and educator whose storytelling often explores the tensions between political ideology, science, religion, modernization and traditional values. His recent work has screened broadly, winning over a dozen jury awards. His Academy Award®-nominated film, White Earth (2014), played at over 50 festivals around the world as well as universities such as Stanford, Yale, UC Berkeley, Duke, and Brown. As a speaker, Jensen has lectured at schools, community groups, and universities and he has also addressed audiences at TEDx. Jensen’s credits as an editor include: the Netflix Original non-fiction series, Last Chance U (2016), about a junior college football team in “middle-of-nowhere” Mississippi attempting to claim the national championship; Out Run (2016), a documentary feature following the world’s first LGBT political party in the Philippines as they campaign for a seat in congress; and the upcoming True Conviction (2017), about a Dallas detective agency run by a group of exonerated men that now fight to get other innocent men released from prison. Jensen is a graduate of Stanford University’s Documentary Film M.F.A. program and was based in the San Francisco Bay Area until his recent move to the Chicago area.