Tonight at the New York Academy of Art, the Tribeca Film Institute announced its Media Arts Fellowship recipients for 2008. It was a lovely party and there was much excitement in the air for the possibilities of this newly formed partnership between TFI and Renew Media. What a stellar group of filmmakers, media artists and all-around brilliant people that were gifted tonight with financial support for their projects.
TFI CEO Elect, Brian Newman, (for whom I will always have a special place in my heart for being the first person to hire me as a writer after I moved here last year) greeted the crowd and then introduced co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, Jane Rosenthal, to say a few words. (I'm fully aware there is a gigantic festival happening in my own backyard, as it were, but am crazed with work and finding it hard to find time to attend screenings, etc.! But I will be attending some functions, panels and parties over the next few days and will try to report any interesting news.)
Then, the charming Alan Berliner (one of our esteemed inaugural Cinema Eye Honors presenters) came up to the podium to deliver a few words, and introduce the fellowship recipients. Berliner was a nominator this year and has been a grant recipient for his ground-breaking experimental media works many times over. He was genuinely thrilled to introduce these artists on the rise to the public.
The Media Arts Fellowships is a program of the Tribeca Film Institute and founded and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. The program has awarded grants to more than 450 media artists since 1988. These artists represent a full spectrum of creativity, ranging from emerging artists to those well-established in their careers. Through this Fellowship, artists are encouraged to redefine, invent, explore, create and recreate visions and stories that reflect their diverse cultures.
Here are the 2008 Tribeca Film Institute Media Arts Fellowship recipients, and their projects:
Julianna Brannum. LaDonna Harris: Indian 101 is a documentary about Comanche activist LaDonna Harris, who as the wife of a US senator in the 60s and 70s, worked from within Washington DC's political scene on behalf of American Indians.
Andrew Bujalski. This currently untitled project is a feature length narrative that revolves around a pair of twin sisters, with the story shaped by the reality of the sister's identical faces and very different bodies.
Daniel Carrera. Invoking Dolores is a feature narrative that explores religious customs of rural Mexico through the story of a priest who returns to his hometown to follow the footsteps of a leading exorcist.
Cherien Dabis. Amreeka is a feature length fiction film about a Palestinian single mother and her son who arrive in rural Illinois to escape a life of oppression, only to face the fallout from America's war on Iraq.
Sharon Daniel. Capitalist Punishment is a multi-media work which examines the politics of privatization and labor exploitation within the US prison system.
Joe Davis. Call Me Ishamael (he came up and spun around gleefully on his wooden leg!!) is an installation of a scientific sculpture that will act as a lightning-powered lighthouse intended to memorialize victims of natural storms.
Jacqueline Goss. Hart's Location is an animated documentary that provides a portrait of the residents of a rural project in New Hampshire, set against the backdrop of the months preceding the country's primary elections.
Judith Helfand. Heat Wave: An Unnatural Disaster is a documentary that revisits Chicago's deadly 1995 heat wave, in order to explore how impoverished urban neighborhoods could be better prepared for extreme weather. (It's so nice to see support for this generous woman who supports so many artists herself.)
Braden King. HERE is a narrative feature that chronicles the relationship between a satellite-mapping engineer and an art photographer who travel together into uncharted foreign territory.
Billy Luther. Grab is a documentary about the traditional festivity of Grab Day and its contemporary celebration in New Mexico's Laguna Pueblo Indian reservation.
Shirin Neshat. Iran/Laos will be an experimental film/video installation that intends to capture the collective identity crisis in Laos as it undergoes a clash between its communist and Buddhist cultures.
Josh On. They Rule. We Work. is a reciprocal pair of websites looking at class in the US today. While one maps the interlocking directories of top corporations, the other examines the state of the working class.
Hugo Perez. Immaculate Conception is a narrative feature that re-imagines the Virgin Mary story within the context of contemporary Miami's Cuban community.
Laura Poitras. Release is the second film in a documentary trilogy about America's response to the attacks of 9/11. The film explores the long-term psychological and political repercussions of the US policy of detention and torture.
C.E.B. Reas. This installation integrates sound components into the artist's custom-designed software TI that generates live abstracted images into structured shapes. (Whoa.)
Dee Rees. Pariah is a narrative feature that expands upon a previous short in which a black lesbian teenager juggles multiple identities in an attempt to please both her friends and family.
Michael Rees. The Sculptural User Installation: Social Sculpture as Tree-ed Binary Large Object is an interactive environment that includes virtual objects on screens and their physical realizations as 3D printed objects. (Whoa squared.)
Jennifer Reeves. Firelight Song is an experimental narrative film about the life and work of Harriet "Petey" Weaver, the first female forest ranger in California in 1929.
Naomi Uman. The Ukrainian Time Machine is a series of four sixteen millimeter films that combines personal, experimental and nonfiction approaches to capturing life in the Ukrainian town of Uman.
Paul Vanouse. Latent Figure Protocol is an installation in which human DNA samples are treated in order to produce images that comment upon issues related to the genetic basis of identity.
Lauren Woods. Fountains is a site-specific installation that comments upon the history of segregation and civil rights protest, as use of a water fountain triggers a video projection over the fading imprint of a "Whites Only" sign above it.
Jessica Yu. Signs of Life is a documentary about the life and work of deaf educator Dr. Virginia McKinney, and her fight to keep open the school she founded over 40 years ago.
I will be doing a series of interviews with many of these gifted artists over the course of the year for Tribeca Film Institute's blog Re:Sources and also for the newly-launched Re:Frame project.
Congratulations to all!