2015 highlights and updates

Our Board

Long-time board members Elizabeth Coffman, Dee Davis, Thea Flaum, Eric Kramer, and Tom Weinberg have been the key to our survival and success.

In 2015, we have been truly lucky to add two new members who are particularly qualified and enthusiastic to help us take new directions.

Ben Kolak is a Chicago filmmaker with global connections. Ben’s directorial debut, Scrappers (2010), went on to win awards at numerous festivals and make critic Roger Ebert’s list of the top 10 documentaries for 2010. Ben edited the documentary Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists (2014 Newport Beach Film Festival), and co-directs the web series Central Standard, made in partnership with WTTW 11 and PBS Digital Studios. Ben alternates between work as a director, cinematographer, editor, producer & educator. He brings enormous skills and enthusiasm to our board.

John Owens is an award-winning media professional with more than 25 years of experience as a multi-platform journalist, executive producer, producer, director and videographer. His documentaries have been featured on WGN-TV, PBS, Link-TV, Hulu, latimes.com and chicagotribune.com. His print work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Reader and other publications. He won the Emmy for best documentary of 2014-5 for Kenwood’s Journey, a troubling on-the-spot story of South Side gun violence. He is also a board member for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, where he is the chair of the Emmy Production committee and the executive producer of the annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards telecast.

All of us are thrilled to welcome Ben and John to our board.


Kartemquin. We began preserving collections from the Kartemquin Films archive, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and matching contributions from many people like you. Kartemquin is the most prolific and important documentary producer in Chicago (and maybe the country). It’s a major step forward to formalize an ongoing partnership with our long-time colleagues, a producing powerhouse now in its 50th year.

Video transfers. We have been able to expand our services of preserving and digitizing the work of broadcast professionals, corporate clients, nonprofit organizations, and individuals. It has helped us improve our earned income component. We are now established as one of the most reputable and affordable videotape transfer organizations in the country. We specialize in providing archival expertise to make the process painless and easy for everyone to save their deteriorating video content. See more: http://mediaburn.org/video-transfer-services/

Education. We started a new relationship with Yollocalli Arts Reach, a program of the National Mexican Museum of Art, to use our videos for youth media and journalism programs. We see it as a promising pilot project for expanding our connections to schools and communities.

New City. We were honored to have been recognized in New City‘s 2015 Film 50 as “one of Chicago’s least noted yet most valuable archives.” Our goal for 2016 is to have the public catch up and we’ll simply be “most valuable”!

Screenings. We participated in the Live to Tape Artists Television Festival in Chicago. ACRE-TV, an online live streaming channel, blasted our archival videos 24/7 for a week. Reviews and public recognition were outstanding. We presented several screenings with South Side Projections, including two screenings looking back at the election of Harold Washington.

Expanding Our Collection. We’ve been able to add videos from several producers whose work isn’t preserved anywhere else. It’s an ongoing mission to raise funds to preserve and digitize more archival videos from talented independents.

Expanding Our Reach. Every week, we edit thoughtful video blogs that comment or reflect on the issues of today. Nearly 10,000 people subscribe to them in one form or another (email, social media, etc).

Everyday Work.  In 2015, as always, we digitized and preserved hundreds of valuable deteriorating videotapes. All are available for free on mediaburn.org, YouTube, and social media.



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