Leslie Simmer &

Gordon Quinn

GORDON QUINN (DIRECTOR, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER) is the Artistic and co-founder of Kartemquin Films, where over the past 50+ years he has helped hundreds of documentary filmmakers advance their projects forward and been a leading champion of the rights of all documentary filmmakers. He is the 2015 recipient of the International Documentary Association Career Achievement Award and was a key leader in creating the Documentary Filmmakers Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use. His credits as director and producer include films as diverse and essential as '63 Boycott (2017), Inquiring Nuns (1966), Golub (1988), and A Good Man (2011), and as executive producer include Academy-Award nominated films Minding the Gap (2018), Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016), Hoop Dreams (1994), and the Emmy Award-winning The Interrupters (2011), The Trials of Muhammad Ali (2013), The Homestretch (2014), and Life Itself (2014), and the acclaimed limited series The New Americans (2003) and Hard Earned (2015).


A prodigious musician, Norman Malone at age 10 was attacked by his father and left paralyzed on his right side. Nevertheless, he became an influential high school music teacher and now, at age 80, belatedly has launched his career as a concert pianist. FOR THE LEFT HAND raises issues that I have dealt with in earlier films: disability, poverty, race, and the role of the artist in our democracy. But these are not the main reasons we are telling Malone’s story; nor are we trying to be inspirational. I'm drawn to Norman's story because he is a man with a life in music who in his senior years has reinvented his career and found a new place for himself in the community. Norman does not write the music, but he is now playing for new audiences and interacting with composers to write works for him. FOR THE LEFT HAND affords us a way of reaching audiences not only on screen but also via Malone’s live concerts. 

For the Left Hand - Trailer B
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For the Left Hand

At age 10, aspiring pianist Norman Malone is paralyzed on his right side after being attacked by his father. Over the next several decades he masters the left-hand repertoire in secret, before a chance discovery of his talent leads him towards making his concert debut. Aged 78, he will perform the greatest work in the canon: Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.


The co-directors live and work in Chicago (at Kartemquin). Our main subject, Norman Malone, lives in Hyde Park and taught in the CPS for over 30 years. One of our producers, Howard Reich, wrote for the Chicago Tribune for over 30 years. Diane Quon, born and raised in Chicago.

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Renowned Chicago music journalist Howard Reich was an early champion of Norman Malone and FOR THE LEFT HAND. Read more from Reich on his website

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See more incredible documentary stories from Gordon Quinn, Leslie Simmer and Kartemquin at kartemquin.com.