It is always wonderful when filmmakers one admires receive the kind of recognition they deserve. But sometimes there is an added benefit: one’s own judgement is affirmed. Thus this post.
I had the pleasure to send out the following email to a number of individuals under the subject heading “Amazing News”–shortly after the names of the MacArthur Foundation’s latest fellowship recipients were released.
Well, this is all very humbling and yet…
As many of you know, I originated Documentary Film Workshop over the course of the 1990s and taught its first official iteration. When I went on leave, I found my replacement–D.A. Pennebaker, who is being awarded an honorary Oscar this year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. After almost 10 years, he and his filmmaking partner Chris Hegedus stepped down and we hired Laura Poitras as a replacement (ok, Laura was my replacement of my replacement)–who has just been awarded a MacArthur fellowship (tonight). Before her MacArthur, she was not only nominated for an Oscar but was a recipient of the Yale Film Studies Program Award–as was D.A. Pennebaker. I feel deeply honored that I have bookended these amazing individuals: perhaps the greatest honor of my life is to be both their predecessor and successor.
Hurray for Penny and Laura!!
One should also note that Laura worked with and for Pennebaker and Hegedus earlier in her career. They were very enthusiastic about having her as their replacement.