Production Begins on Steve James Unscripted Series


CANNES/LOS ANGELES: Participant Media has started production on its first unscripted series, America to Me, created by filmmaker Steve James and Kartemquin Films.

America to Me follows a year in suburban Chicago’s Oak Park and River Forest High School, one of the country’s most exemplary and diverse public schools. The project looks on as students, teachers and administrators struggle with decades-long racial and educational inequities, as well as the challenges that today’s teenagers face.

James serves as series director and executive producer under his Kartemquin Films banner. Gordon Quinn, Betsy Steinberg and Justine Nagan, as well as Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann, are also executive producers. Participant Media holds worldwide rights to the series.

David Linde, CEO of Participant, said, “America to Me further demonstrates and perfectly represents our commitment to producing socially relevant entertainment. Expanding into the unscripted realm with this vibrant and compelling series with a filmmaker of Steve’s caliber and creative vision is incredibly exciting for us.”

“Having collaborated with Steve many years ago, and continuing to follow his career, I have tremendous respect and admiration for him and his ability to tell powerful stories,” commented Diane Weyermann, Participant’s executive VP of documentary films. “It is inspiring to partner with him once again on this timely series.”

James remarked: “I am thrilled to be working with Diane and her team at Participant. They’ve made it possible for us to do a series I’ve wanted to do for over ten years. I truly believe the story of Oak Park and River Forest High School can be, in many ways, the story of race and education for young people in America today.”