about us

Filmmakers and theater artists Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly have been making documentaries together at Spargel Productions for over a decade.  Their work has been supported by MacArthur Foundation, Sundance Institute, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, The Michigan Arts Council, The Michigan Humanities Council, BRITDOCS, The Bertha Foundation, Fledgling Fund, Polk Bros. Foundation, and The Philip and Cheryl Milstein Foundation (among others). They have co-produced projects with Chicago’s legendary Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) and New York’s Providence Productions (Elaine Stritch: Just Shoot Me). They are members of The Sundance Documentary Institute. 

Their most recent film, The Homestretch, premiered at the 2014 Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto and had its broadcast premiere on PBS’s award-winning Independent Lens in April 2015, sharing the stories of Chicago’s homeless youth with over 1 million viewers nationwide.  The film has screened in over 500 communities at film festivals, advocacy events, conferences and universities. The Homestretch has been honored with a 2014 Journalism Award from the National Institutes of Health Care Management, was selected by the U.S. State Department to travel world-wide as part of the 2015-2016 American Film Showcase, and will be the recipient of the 2015 Spirit of Youth award from the National Runaway Safeline.

Anne and Kirsten’s first feature, Asparagus! Stalking the American Life, premiered at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in 2006 and went on to win Best Documentary and Audience Choice awards across the country. They are currently in development (with writer/producer Elizabeth Hemmerdinger) for The Girl With The Rivet Gun, an animated media project based on the real-life experiences of women industrial workers during World War II.  This piece is inspired by our work creating an oral history archive for NYU's Tamiment Labor Archives called The Real Rosie The Riveter Project.  Individually and together, the pair have produced and directed documentary projects for New York University, The Juilliard School, The Park Avenue Armory, Lincoln Center, and a number of private clients.

Anne and Kirsten share a deep commitment to projects that celebrate the transformative power of the human spirit, where the individual experience illuminates the face of society as a whole, as well as projects that explore the human connection to social justice issues.  They have a strong interest in the curious, quirky and wondrous stories of life in the United States and the shifting definition of what it means to be an American. 

Anne de Mare

Before dedicating herself to documentary film, Anne was an award-winning playwright and theater director. Her original plays have been presented in Chicago, London and New York, where she was a five-year resident artist with Richard Foreman’s legendary Ontological-Hysteric Theater. She is a founding member of The Independent Theater Company, The Nevermore Theater Project and one of the five original members of Theaters Against War in response to the U.S. Wars in Afhganistan and Iraq.  Anne was awarded an Edna Craddock Fellowship at the Millay Colony for the Arts and was a resident playwright with The Ground Floor Theater Lab, who produced the award-winning production of her play Lucky Man at the first NY International Fringe Festival. Her film and video work has been seen on stage at Rififi, Lincoln Center and at The Park Avenue Armory.

Kirsten Kelly

Along with her film work, Kirsten is an award-winning theatre director and educator. She is the Associate Artistic Director of Roots&Branches Theatre, a company that builds bridges across generations, and she is co-creator of “CPS Shakespeare!” with Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Kirsten’s recent theatre directing credits include work with Lincoln Center/Juilliard, Chicago Shakespeare, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Rising Phoenix Repertory and the Public Theater. She is currently adapting the young adult Newbery Award novel “The Wednesday Wars” for the stage. Kirsten is a graduate of Juilliard’s Master Directing program and is a member of the Actor’s Studio Playwright Director’s Unit and Rising Phoenix Repertory in New York.