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22 filmmakers and media artists receive nearly $750,000
Jonathan Caouette, Ken Jacobs, and Kelly Reichardt among recipients

May 2, 2007 (New York, NY) – In a ceremony last night at the American Academy of Art, Renew Media announced the recipients of the Media Arts fellowships for 2007, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, awarding nearly $750,000 to 22 innovative and pioneering filmmakers and media artists. Film producer Jim McKay (Brother to Brother, Stranger Inside) joined Renew Media representatives in handing out the fellowships to some of the most promising and respected independent filmmakers working today, including Kelly Reichardt (Old Joy), Jonathan Caouette (Tarnation), Rob Epstein (The Times of Harvey Milk), Godfrey Reggio (Koyaanisqatsi), and Ken Jacobs (Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son). A complete list of the 2007 Fellows, including a description of their upcoming projects, is included below.

The Fellowships recognize the artistic excellence of 20 film, video and new media artists in the United States with cash awards of $35,000 each. The program also awards two additional Fellowships of $10,000 each to emerging film and video artists. The Fellowships are intended to provide support to filmmakers and media artists whose work represents creative risk-taking – pushing the boundaries of genre, form, technique, medium, and content – as well as social and political relevance. Renew Media also awards between four and six Fellowships of $20,000 each to Mexican filmmakers and media artists.

“We are inspired by the breadth of innovation and creativity of this year’s Fellows. From emerging artists to those more established in their careers, they represent some of the most talented individuals currently working in the independent media field in the United States,” said Brian Newman, executive director of Renew Media. “Often, the Fellowship award represents the crucial ‘first money’ given in support of a project. We look forward to seeing the continued success of the artists awarded Fellowships tonight. We also applaud the Rockefeller Foundation for its 20 years of visionary support of the media arts, which has assisted nearly 500 artists in the creation of important works of film, video and new media.”

For two decades, the Rockefeller Foundation has provided more than $12 million of support to nearly 500 artists whose work collectively represents some of the most groundbreaking and visionary pieces of independent film and media in recent history. The ceremony last night commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Rockefeller Foundation’s continued support of emerging and established filmmakers and media artists. Through these fellowships, the Foundation has made a lasting and substantial contribution to the state of independent cinema. Renew Media (formerly known as National Video Resources) administered the Media Arts Fellowships on behalf of the Foundation from 1995 to 2002. In 2003, the Fellowships became a full program of Renew Media, receiving the majority of its financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation.

“The Rockefeller Foundation is proud of its long association with the Media Arts Fellowships,” said Joan Shigekawa, Associate Director at the Rockefeller Foundation. “We believe that a vibrant, independent media is essential for sparking public dialogue and action. During the past twenty years, the Media Arts Fellows have produced one superlative work after another. We also thank our partners at Renew Media for their passion and commitment on behalf of the Media Arts Fellowships.”

The Rockefeller Foundation was established in 1913 by John D. Rockefeller, Sr., to “promote the well-being” of humanity by addressing the root causes of serious problems. The Foundation works around the world to expand opportunities for poor or vulnerable people and to help ensure that globalization’s benefits are more widely shared. With assets of more than $3.5 billion, it is one of the few institutions to conduct such work within the United States and internationally.

Renew Media, formerly known as National Video Resources (NVR), is a not-for-profit organization established by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1990. The new name was chosen for its emphasis on a quest for quality as well as innovation and renewal. The organization fosters independent artistic expression by supporting the creation, dissemination and public awareness of independent media in all forms. The cornerstone of its support for artists is the Media Arts Fellowships, which support the creation of new work that brings innovation to the media arts. The Ford Foundation is also a key funder of the program. Further information can be found at www.renewmedia.org.

For press inquiries, please contact Wellington Love at tel: 212.366.4992 or email: wellingtonlove@15minutespr.com.

2007 MEDIA ARTS FELLOWS

The Media Arts Fellowships support artists working in narrative, documentary, experimental, installation or work that centers on dynamic, computer-mediated media, such as web art, robotics, virtual reality, and interactive installations. An asterisk * next to the individual’s name indicates a recipient of an Emerging Artist Fellowship.

FILM AND VIDEO FELLOWS

NATALIA ALMADA*
Brooklyn, NY, and Mexico City

El General is a feature length documentary about the conflicting history the filmmaker has inherited as the great-granddaughter of Plutarco Elias Calles, President of Mexico in the 1920s and one of Mexico’s most controversial figures. The film is a journey into a family’s past and an intimate portrait of Mexico then and now.

Natalia Almada’s recent documentary Al Otro Lado (The Other Side), a look at immigration and drug trafficking through the tradition of corrido music, received support from the Sundance Documentary Fund and has screened in festivals throughout the world, including those in the United States, Mexico and Brazil. In 2006, the film screened for a week at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

JONATHAN CAOUETTE
Astoria, NY

Everything… Somewhere Else is an experimental feature that incorporates film and video elements to tell the fantastical story of an introverted but headstrong young woman who takes a surreal trip through time and space.

Jonathan Caouette’s experimental documentary Tarnation, about growing up with his schizophrenic mother, received much acclaim at film festivals in the United States and Europe and garnered the Best Non-Fiction award from the National Society of Film Critics and Best Documentary from the London International Film Festival, among others. His work explores self-identity, perception and the language of dreams.

NATHANIEL DORSKY
San Francisco, CA

The yet-to-be-titled second film of Two Songs of Existence is a silent work that places emphasis on the musicality of light and montage to express an intimate human song. The film represents the culmination of the director’s lifetime artistic concern for poetic cinema.

Nathaniel Dorsky, a 2003 Fellow, has been making films within the avant-garde tradition since 1964. His works has been exhibited and honored in festivals and art centers throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Lincoln Center and the Whitney Museum in New York, and the Louvre and Centre Pompidou in Paris.

ROB EPSTEIN
San Francisco, CA

Howl, a documentary memorializing the publication of Alan Ginsberg’s groundbreaking poem of the same name, considers the cultural paths the work set in motion, through a collage of visual and audio techniques.

Rob Epstein is a film and video maker whose work has earned him, among numerous honors, two Academy Awards, six Emmys and three George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Awards. Working primarily in the documentary genre, his work explores the relationship between history and homosexuality.

MARINA GOLDOVSKAYA
Los Angeles, CA

A Bitter Taste of Freedom is a documentary about the life and violent death of a celebrated journalist and human rights activist who courageously voiced her opinion about the government policy and fascist movements in Russia. The filmmaker uses excerpts from her own twenty-year video diary to paint a broader picture of Russian society in the period of transition.

Marina Goldovskaya has made 35 films and earned numerous awards, including the Prix Europa, Golden Gate Award, Golden Hugo, Joris Ivens and Silver Rembrandt. In 2006 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Art of Documenting History from the Russian Association of non-Fiction Film and TV. She heads the Documentary program at the UCLA Film School.

KEN JACOBS
New York, NY

The Impossible is a digital recreation of Jacob’s 1975 performance-work that manipulates footage from the 1905 Billy Blitzer movie Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son. In both the first section Southwark Fair and the second Hell Breaks Loose, the usually two-dimensional images will be specially projected to create a three dimensional effect.

Ken Jacobs has been making films for over fifty years. In that time, his work has been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of the Moving Image, and in numerous international film festivals. He is a Distinguished Professor of the Department of Cinema, which he started at SUNY Binghamton in 1969.

SO YONG KIM*
Brooklyn, NY

Treeless Mountain is a narrative feature that follows a six-year-old who must take care of her younger sister as they adjust to a harsher life in the rural countryside of South Korea.

So Yong Kim, a Korean immigrant, is a filmmaker, musician and artist. Her first feature In Between Days which she wrote and directed, won the Special Jury Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival as well as the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival’s International Forum for New Cinema. Her installations and short films/videos have exhibited throughout the United States, Europe and Japan.

WON JU LIM
Los Angeles, CA

The yet-to-be-titled installation combines multiple video projections and sculptures to express the interiors of Baroque architectural landmarks.

Won Ju Lim is a Korean born artist whose work has been exhibited worldwide in galleries and shows in Berlin, Madrid, London, Vienna, Basel, and Los Angeles, among other cities. Her work is included in the collections of the UCLA Hammer Museum, Vancouver Art Gallery and La Colección Jumex in Mexico City.

LARRY BLACKHORSE LOWE
Norman, OK

Left Handed Path takes place on a Navajo reservation in the late 1980s, when devil worship was popular in the southwest. The narrative focuses on a 16-year-old girl who tampers with the occult after losing faith in her traditional upbringing and her family.

Larry Blackhorse Lowe is a filmmaker and educator whose work often deals with the themes of family and tradition within the Navajo community. His first feature 5th World premiered at Sundance and has screened at numerous festivals nationwide.

JAKE MAHAFFY
Norton, MA

Free in Deed is a feature-length narrative about the troubles of an intensely religious man facing a reality devoid of miracles. Based on an actual event in which an eight year old autistic boy died during an attempt to perform a miraculous healing, the story constructs a fictional future for one of the men involved in the tragedy.

Jake Mahaffy is a filmmaker and educator whose work is often spiritual and experimental. He has received grants from Creative Capital and the Guggenheim Foundation, and he was awarded the first Lynn Auerbach Screenwriting Fellowship by the Sundance Institute. His films have been shown in festivals worldwide, and he was designated as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2005.

HEATHER RAE
Boise, ID

Family: The First Circle follows individuals whose lives have become intertwined with the foster care system. The documentary is intended to explore and question the structure of American families whose children have become wards of the state because of drugs, neglect or poverty.

Heather Rae’s documentary Trudell, about American Indian activist and poet John Trudell, premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and also aired on PBS Independent Lens. As Director of the Native American Program for the Sundance Institute from 1995 to 2001, Rae nurtured the work of more than fifty emerging Native American screenwriters and filmmakers.

GODFREY REGGIO
Santa Fe, NM

Savage Eden/Holy Smoke is a non-traditional narrative comedy that tackles the age ofisms such as fundamentalism, consumerism and globalism. The filmmaker will collaborate with actors whose body language, facial display and gestural expressions will be used to explore serious themes through a comedic approach.

Godfrey Reggio’s widely acclaimed body of work includes the trilogy Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi. His films have been exhibited in festivals and museums around the world, including New York, Berlin, Venice, Telluride, Sao Paolo and Oslo, among many others. His work has been distributed in more than 50 countries and was among the most frequently shown films on college campuses during the 1980s.

KELLY REICHARDT
Astoria, NY

Train Choir is a narrative feature about woman whose life is derailed en route to a potentially lucrative summer job. When her car breaks down, and her dog is taken to the pound, the thin fabric of her financial situation comes apart, and she is lead through a series of increasingly dire economic decisions.

Kelly Reichardt is a New York-based filmmaker and educator whose work has been shown in numerous festivals in the United States and Europe. Her most recent feature Old Joy was the first American film to win the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam Film Festival, and was theatrically released nationwide.

DAVID RUSSO
Seattle, WA

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle is an experimental narrative feature about a group of night janitors at a product development firm who unwittingly become guinea pigs in a study on cookies with comical and unfortunate side effects. The film features a unique technique that combines time-lapse photography and animation to create an effect called “motion-lapse.”

David Russo is a filmmaker and artist based in Seattle, Washington. His most recent film, I Am (Not) van Gogh, screened at numerous festivals worldwide and won the Juror’s Choice Award at the Black Maria, the Critics Jury Prize at Huesca, and was later purchased by the French Ministry of Culture for distribution. He received an Emmy for Video Effects for his title sequence on the documentary series Community Stories.

HANK WILLIS THOMAS
New York, NY

Question Bridge is a documentary designed to explore critically divisive issues within the African American male community. Interviews with a hundred black men across the country will be constructed in such a way so as to present a sort of dialogue between themselves, and provide a mosaic of perspectives.

Hank Willis Thomas’ previous work as a photographer has been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums in the United States, and is included in the public collections of the Studio Museum in Harlem and the International Center of Photography in New York, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. His photographs have been displayed in New York’s Grand Central Station, and he is collaborating on a video installation for the Oakland International Airport. He was granted a NYFA Fellowship in 2006.

CHEL WHITE
Portland OR

At the Edge of the World is an experimental narrative feature based on the filmmaker’s personal experience of being stranded for four days in a mountain snowstorm with his partner. The story explores the psychological and spiritual awareness that results from this confrontation with survival and mortality.

Chel White’s short film Madga was awarded Best Animated Film in eight film festivals, after making its world premiere at the 2004 Rotterdam Film Festival. Retrospectives of White’s work have been screened by the Portland Art Museum/Northwest Film Center, Austin Film Society, the Ann Arbor Film Festival and Retina, in Hungary.

NEW MEDIA FELLOWS

JON HADDOCK
Tempe, AZ

The W.A.S.D Project is an integrated hardware and software system in which one individual at a computer is able to dictate the actions of another individual. The two people are linked by wireless communication, with the keyboard-controller maneuvering the participant in the manner of a computer game character.

Jon Haddock lives and works in Tempe, Arizona. He received both an MFA and MA from the University of Iowa in Iowa City and has exhibited internationally, including Yerba Buena Art Center in San Francisco, Aeroplastics Contemporary in Brussels and Witte Zaal in Ghent. Mr. Haddock is also included in the collection of the Whitney Museum in New York, among others.

KENNETH TIN-KIN HUNG
New York, NY

Gas Zappers is a web-based game which will be used to educate about global warming. The game’s design will utilize interactive flash-based software and incorporate pop cultural references in order to illustrate the various causes and effects of this phenomenon.

Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung is an artist based in New York City whose internet design, collages and animations have been exhibited extensively in San Francisco, and have been included in international festivals such as the Prix Ars Electronica in Linz, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, and the VIPER International Festival for Film, Video and New Media in Basel. He is also one of the founding members of Gallery 1310 in San Francisco.

CHICO MACMURTRIE
Brooklyn, NY

Inflatable Architectural Body will be the latest installation in The Inflatable Bodies, a series of computer-controlled robotic fabric sculptures capable of fluid movement and interaction with humans. This piece will involve large-scaled inflatable fabric skeletons that will move in response to the presence of a visitor.

Chico MacMurtie is a New York-based artist who founded Amorphic Robot Works, a collaborative group of artists and engineers. In addition to international gallery exhibitions, MacMurtrie’s work has included commissioned pieces, lectures, and robot-building workshops for children. Previous honors include awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Andy Warhol Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts.

CAT MAZZA
Troy, NY

Knitoscope Sampler is an installation that will use custom software to translate digital video feeds into the appearance of knitted stitches. Handmade designs will be collected and scanned into a computer to create a database of patterns from which the video will be “stiched.” The resulting animation series will narrate stories about the labor movement, drawn from interviews with activists, historians and textile workers.

Catherine Mazza combines digital technology and pre-industrial craft in order to initiate discussion about sweatshop labor. She holds an MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and her work has been exhibited internationally in England, Italy, Russia, Brazil as well as throughout the United States. She was also a founding member of Eyebeam, a new media art and technology center in New York City.

RICHARD PELL
Troy, NY

The Institute for Transgeneography is a project whose primary objective is to create the world’s first comprehensive map of engineered transgenic flora and fauna. The project will consist of a database of transgenic organisms and the web interface that will make the information available to the public at large.

Richard Pell is an Assistant Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. His work is a cross-disciplinary combination of art, science and engineering. He has exhibited at museums, galleries and film festivals worldwide including the 2006 Whitney Biennial, the Kassel Documentary Film Festival, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Barcelona.

KURT RALSKE
New York, NY

The Inevitable is an installation that plucks sets of matching frames from films, presented on six synchronized video monitors. In order to find these matching sets, the artist will create a visual database and write custom software that will analyze all of the frames added therein. During the installation, different films will run across six synchronized video monitors, freezing when they converge at their matching frames.

Kurt Ralske is a video artist, composer and software programmer based in New York City. He has performed and exhibited internationally, including at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and the Los Angeles and Montreal Museums of Contemporary Art. Kurt teaches at the graduate and undergraduate level at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.