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Two Chicago documentary filmmakers to receive MacArthur grants

"Hoop Dreams" filmmaker Steve James is among the filmmakers who will receive a grant from the MacArthur Foundation this year.

James, who is based in Oak Park, is getting $200,000 in funding for his latest project, "To Bridge the Divide," which he has been filming at Oak Park and River Forest High School since last year. The film (which he is making with Chicago documentary house Kartemquin Films) will look at racial inequality as it pertains to academics.

Nineteen grants totaling $2.5 million are being awarded to social issues documentary projects this time out, including $100,000 to local filmmaker Jane M. Saks for "Working in America," which takes Studs Terkel's oral history "Working" as inspiration and chronicles "the everyday challenges, triumphs and realities of working."

According to a statement released by the foundation, the "new grants represent MacArthur’s largest single year investment in documentaries."

For a complete list of films receiving grants go to


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