Kevin Hauswirth is a social entrepreneur, queer activist and communications exec. He has earned a reputation for creatively making “the wonky'' relevant to get people engaged around complex policies and issues. He is the founder of Hauswirth/Co which Crain’s Chicago Business described as “ as an inclusive, diverse team of digital natives.” The New York Times noted Hauswirth’s role as The City of Chicago’s first director of social media as “3 of Mayor’s Men Join Forces. Their Goal: Harness Technology to Help the City.” Hauswirth was named to The Advocate's 40 Under 40 and Crain’s Notable LGBTQ Executives. He has advised political candidates and campaigns, including served on the first LGBTQ advisory committee for then Presidential-Candidate Barack Obama, supported Hillary for America LGBTQ Chicago outreach, and covered LGBTQ youth issues for the Advocate’s GenQ beat. Kevin currently serves a trustee of Adler University and is involved with various progressive causes.
As a young activist with openly gay uncles, Kevin grew up hearing the stories of Art Johnston and his generation of trouble-makers. In 2005, Kevin had launched an organization at the University of Illinois to combat homophobia and anti-LGBTQ violence in fraternities, a program that attracted Johnston's attention. The two met for a drink at Sidetrack one summer and, soon after, Johnston recruited Kevin to join the board of Equality Illinois– a position Kevin held for over 10 years.
As a storyteller, Mercedes Kane is forever fascinated by the human experience and the many ways to explore and express that experience. Founder of Daisy May Films, she most recently directed the feature films ART AND PEP (2022), MORE WITH LESS: THE POWER OF HBCUs IN AMERICA (2022) and WHAT REMAINS: THE BURNING DOWN OF BLACK WALL STREET (2021, the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture) about th1921 Tulsa race massacre. ART AND PEP premiered at OutFest in Los Angeles, before winning the Audience Award at the Chicago International Film Festival and premiering on Peacock in June of 2023. Her third feature length documentary, the award-winning BREAKFAST AT INA’S, premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival before screening at 50+ international film festivals, then being acquired by American Public Television.
Mercedes’ other previous films include BANANA SEASON (producer, 2018) TODAY WE SAW THE FACE OF GOD (director, 2012), HEARTS OF HOPE (director, 2009) CHICAGO HEIGHTS (associate producer, 2010), named “One of the Best Art Films” of the year by Roger Ebert.
In addition to her film work, Mercedes is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Narrative Nonfiction at the University of Georgia. She’s regularly published in The Takeout and is working on a long form written article and podcast about the juvenile justice system in America, as told through one tragic story.
A lifelong cinephile and documentary fiend, Nate Freyman comes to the ART AND PEP production team with over six years of production experience in the marketing and communications space. More recently, he worked in film marketing, sales, and acquisitions in the UK after completing his Master's degree in International Film Business at the London Film School and the University of Exeter. As an LGBTQ+ Chicagoland native, Nate is thrilled to be able to marry his passions for documentary film, LGBTQ+ issues, and Chicago nightlife in helping bring Art and Pep's beautiful story of love and activism to life.
Director of Photography
A native of South Korea, Sanghoon Lee is Atlanta based cinematographer/director. He has completed several award-winning dramatic features as the cinematographer and producer, including Second Moon (2007), Chicago Heights (2009), Hogtown (2014) and Ghostwriter (2021). His credits also include feature documentaries Edit (2003), Today We Saw the Face of God (2011), and Breakfast at Ina’s (2015), What Remains: The Burning Down of Back Wall Street (2021) and Art and Pep (2022). In 2018 he wrote directed his first feature film, Banana Season.Sanghoon teaches film at the University of Georgia’s Film, Television and Digital Media (MFA).
C.J. Arellano is a filmmaker specializing in genre-driven, comedic, and inclusive content. He has edited content for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, American Cancer Society, and Lambda Legal. In 2018, C.J. edited Zero Weeks, a feature documentary advocating for paid family leave in America. It won several accolades, including Best Editing at the Colorado International Film Festival.
C.J. combined his post-production and motion design expertise with a holistic eye on branding/messaging to produce memorable and high-impact video content for clients such as Motorola, The Second City, and Bob Dylan’s whiskey brand Heaven’s Door. View his work at CJarellano.com.
Award-winning filmmaker Ky Dickens is best known for her acclaimed documentaries that shift public policy and culture. She’s been hailed a storyteller at the intersection of film and complex social issues - demonstrated by receiving the Focus Award for Achievement in Directing and the Ford Foundation’s Change Maker Award for influencing social change through art and film.
Her 2019 film, THE CITY THAT SOLD AMERICA is about Chicago’s crucial, yet often-overlooked, place in American consumer culture and is a sequel to Emmy-award winning Art & Copy. Her 2018 film ZERO WEEKS, about America’s paid leave crisis, premiered the trailer at the White House Summit on the United State of Women, hosted by Oprah and Michelle Obama. Ky’s 2016 documentary hit SOLE SURVIVOR (CNN FILMS), profiled four survivors of otherwise fatal plane crashes. Her first feature documentary, FISH OUT OF WATER, was inducted into the United States Library of Congress in 2011 for its instrumental role in changing the national faith perspective on LGBTQ human rights. Collectively, they have won more than 20 awards for best picture and audience choice. She is currently in production on the biopic NASA TO RECRUIT WOMEN about Sally Ride and NASA’s first astronaut class to include women and people of color.
Mary F. Morten is a consultant, filmmaker and activist. She has over twenty years of executive leadership experience at nonprofits and is president of Morten Group, a consulting firm specializing in social change through skills development, public policy and advocacy. Her 2011 film WOKE UP BLACK won a Black Excellence Award from the African American Arts Alliance, and she is currently shooting the next installment, WOKE UP BLACK, AGAIN. She is also in production for MISS GAY BLACK AMERICA, a new documentary about the art of female impersonation, highlighting the life of her brother, Ronnie Reed, a.k.a Terri Livingston.
As a recent graduate from Northwestern University’s Radio/Television/Film program, Lucinda Mandel has been working in Chicago film and television production. She joins ART AND PEP, continuing her work & interest in how queer histories are recorded, past & present. She is excited to be working with this incredible crew, to hear the unique stories of so many LGBTQ+ Chicagoans, and to research & learn from the city’s public & personal archival collections.