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Work-In-Progress Documentary

Sunday, November 10

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Work-In-Progress Documentary

Part of the Kartemquin Presents Series

  • Date: November 10, 2019
  • Time: 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm
  • Price: $10
    $10 general admission, $5 student
  • Rating: This film is not rated
  • Location: Gorton Community Center
    400 E. Illinois Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045
  • Resources: Film Website, IMDB

At 10 years old, Chicagoan Norman Malone survived a brutal attack that left him paralyzed on his right side. Nevertheless, he pursued his dream of playing the piano, eventually mastering some of the most difficult left-hand repertoire ever written.

Witness Malone’s amazing story and his gifts in this “work-in-progress screening” of Left-Handed Pianist and be the first to see a Kartemquin Films documentary in the making. Following the screening, the 81-year-old musician will perform at the piano. Then there will be a discussion with the filmmakers: Academy Award nominee and Lake Forest resident Diane Quon, Kartemquin co-founder Gordon Quinn, Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich and Malone himself.


4:00pm – Rough cut of the film

4:45pm – Norman Malone will perform on the piano

5:00pm – Panel discussion and audience Q&A with filmmakers

*this program is a rough outline of the afternoon, the times might not be exact



At age 10, Norman Malone was attacked with a hammer to the head by his father, who then killed himself. Now paralyzed on his right side, and living in a housing project on Chicago’s South Side, Malone still was determined to become a pianist. Without ever telling anyone, he spent 60 years mastering the works written solely for the left-hand by great composers such as Brahms, Prokofiev, Ravel, and Britten. But after a chance encounter leads to a journalist discovering his extraordinary story, Malone begins to belatedly launch his concert career at age 78. Left-Handed Pianist offers a portrait of the concert pianist he has become as he takes on the greatest – and most difficult – pieces in the entire left-hand repertory, making his hidden talent public for the first time.

The film is currently in production and due for release in 2020. The Gorton Center screening will offer a work-in-progress preview.



Pianist Norman Malone has led an unpredictable and heroic journey to the concert stage. As a child, he was a prodigious pianist, but a tragic event that occurred when he was 10 years old left him paralyzed on his right side. Undaunted, Malone proceeded to develop his art as a pianist, specializing in repertoire written for the left hand.  DePaul University accepted him as a music student despite his disability, and Malone spent nine years completing his undergraduate studies, then went on to earn a master’s degree at DePaul. He enjoyed a long and successful career as a high school choral teacher in Chicago, meanwhile secretly continuing to develop his art at the piano. When Malone was in his late 70s, the Chicago Tribune ran a series of stories about him, and Malone suddenly began receiving invitations to give performances. At age 78, he launched his long-delayed career as a concert pianist, his singular story now being developed as a documentary film produced by Chicago’s widely admired Kartemquin Films.



Leslie Simmer, Co-Director/Editor
Leslie Simmer is Kartemquin’s Director of Editing as well as Senior Editor on staff. For over nineteen years Leslie has worked at Kartemquin in various capacities. Most recently she has worked on the multi-part series America to Me and Raising Bertie, which she edited and co-wrote, and which premiered at Full Frame in 2016. Leslie edited and co-wrote the Emmy Award-winning film, The Homestretch, which world premiered at Hot Docs 2014 and screened on PBS’s Independent Lens in 2015. She also edited and co-wrote the Emmy-nominated feature documentary As Goes Janesville. Prior to that, she edited with Steve James on the ESPN film No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson. She edited the Emmy-nominated In the Family (for which she received the Best Editing prize at the “Best of the Midwest Awards”). In 2005 Leslie was co-editor with Steve James on The War Tapes. From 2001-2004 she wore dual hats on the seven-part PBS series The New Americans as both Series Story Editor and Post Production Supervisor.
*Leslie will not be present for the screening at Gorton


Gordon Quinn, Co-Director
Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn has been making documentaries for over 50 years. Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun Times, called his first film Home for Life (1966) “an extraordinarily moving documentary.” With Home for Life Gordon established the direction he would take for the next four decades, making cinéma vérité films that investigate and critique society by documenting the unfolding lives of real people. Gordon has won numerous awards throughout his career, including three Emmy awards. He has been honored by the International Documentary Association (IDA) with their 2015 Career Achievement Award; was the recipient of the Hot Springs Documentary Festival’s 2014 Career Achievement Award; was honored with a special tribute at the 2015 Houston Cinema Arts Festival; received CIMMfest’s 2016 BAADASSSSS Award, which honors distinguished careers and lifetime achievement in movies and music; was honored by the 2016 St. Louis International Film Festival’s Maysles Brothers Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary.


Diane Moy Quon, Producer
Academy Award-nominated producer, Diane Quon, worked as a marketing executive for 17 years at NBC and at Paramount Pictures before moving back to her hometown of Chicago. Diane is producing multiple Kartemquin Films documentaries including the Oscar nominated, and Peabody and Sundance award-winning film, Minding the Gap directed by Bing Liu; Left-Handed Pianist along with Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich, and co-directed by Leslie Simmer and Gordon Quinn; The Dilemma of Desire with Peabody Award-winning director Maria Finitzo; and Finding Yingying with director Jiayan “Jenny” Shi. Diane is a 2017/2018 Film Independent Fellow and 2019 IFP Cannes Producer Fellow. She is also developing a fiction film based on a New York Times best-selling book, ‘Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet’. Diane is a Lake Forest resident.


Howard Reich, Producer/Writer
Howard has covered the arts for the Chicago Tribune since 1978 and joined the staff in 1983. He has written six books: “The Art of Inventing Hope: Intimate Coversations with Elie Wiesel,” “Portraits in Jazz,” “Let Freedom Swing,” “Jelly’s Blues” (with William Gaines), “Van Cliburn” and “Prisoner of Her Past” (originally published as “The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich”). The latter inspired the Kartemquin documentary film Prisoner of Her Past which Reich wrote, narrated and co-produced. He is the writer-producer of three documentaries. and holds two honorary doctoral degress and served on the Pulitzer music jury four times, including for the first jazz winner, “Blood on the Fields.”


Jason Stephens, Moderator & KTQ Board Member

Jason Stephens is a native Hoosier and received his Bachelor’s degree in English from Ball State University. Immediately following college, he served two years as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English and American History in Far Eastern Russia. After returning from Russia, Jason lived in Washington, DC for three years where, while working in various public relations and lobbying positions, he became involved with the independent theatre and film community. His experiences brought him back to the Midwest to pursue a Masters degree in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago while also founding the non-profit organization Split Pillow to help foster and support local filmmaking. In 2004 the Chicago Tribune named him one of their “Chicagoans of the Year” for “providing a national platform for local talent.” He is currently a full-time lecturer in the Arts, Entertainment and Media Management Department at Columbia College Chicago, and currently sits on the Board of Kartemquin Films.

About Kartemquin Films:

Sparking democracy through documentary since 1966, Kartemquin is a collaborative community that empowers documentary makers who create stories that foster a more engaged and just society.

Kartemquin’s films have received three Academy Award® nominations and won many more major prizes, including six Emmys® and two Peabody Awards. Recognized as a leading advocate for independent public media, Kartemquin has helped hundreds of artists via its filmmaker development programs and championing of documentary.

Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization based in Chicago.

Gorton Community Center will take and may use photos and videos from this event for its promotional purposes. Your attendance indicates your consent to the above.



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