Phil Ranstrom

Phil Ranstrom is an American documentary film director living in Chicago, Illinois, who has been writing, producing and directing documentaries since the early 1980s. Among his credits are the 2012 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award winning documentary, Cheat You Fair: The Story of Maxwell Street, which Chicago Tribune writer and WGN (AM) host, Rick Kogan called, "One of the most remarkable pieces of work I've ever seen.".[1] Phil was also nominated for a Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Writing - Program/Non News for his documentary script, Cheat You Fair, at the 2011-2012 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards and received a 1982-1983 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Award nomination for his documentary, The Cocaine Express, for Best News Specials: Investigative Report.

All of Phil Ranstrom's independent documentaries prior to Cheat You Fair and Electrified were short films, shown on WTTW television in Chicago. Cheat You Fair is Phil's first feature length film. It is narrated by actor Joe Mantegna and details the rise and fall of Chicago's Maxwell Street. This epic documentary is presented in 3 acts—part history, part blues and part expose' about the fight to save the market from being destroyed by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Each act is presented in a different documentary genre. Cheat You Fair is considered by many to be the definitive work about Chicago's Maxwell Street, as no other film or book captures this much history, music, interviews and information about this world-famous market. Cheat You Fair was also shown during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.[2] It was also shown in various film festivals in the U.S.[3][4] and in Europe.[5][6] A shortened, one-hour, version of Cheat You Fair had its television debut on WTTW on October 27, 2011. The DVD is available at the film's website.[7]

Multiple documentary sub-genres

Ranstrom's documentaries vary in style and sub-genre. "The Cocaine Express", "Uptown Christian Soldiers", "Reclaiming America" and the third-act of Cheat You Fair: The Story of Maxwell Street" incorporate elements of the investigative and news report sub-genres, while I Remember Riverview, Cheat You Fair and Electrified incorporate the historical, cultural and experimental sub-genres. Each of the three acts of Cheat You Fair utilizes a different sub-genre to tell the story – historical, musical and investigative.

Music documentaries

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation helped to sponsor two of Phil Ranstrom's films - Cheat You Fair and Electrified. In addition, they are working together on a series of upcoming music documentaries including, "Pierogi Blues".

Documentary Filmography

  • The Cocaine Express (1983)
  • I Remember Riverview (1984)
  • Uptown Christian Soldiers (1985)
  • Reclaiming America (1986)
  • Electrified: The Story of the Maxwell Street Urban Blues (2008)
  • Cheat You Fair: The Story of Maxwell Street (2008)
  • Cheat You Fair: The Story of Maxwell Street (2011) (broadcast version)
  • Pierogi Blues (in-production)
  • The Big House (in-development/Discovery Studios)