Laura Poitras and Natalia Almada have been named MacArthur Fellows for 2012, which brings a $500,000 grant to each over the next five years. The documentary filmmakers are among 23 fellows chosen by the MacArthur Foundation, which made the announcement Monday.
Poitras is a 48-year-old New Yorker and founder of Praxis Films. For the last ten years, she has been working on a trilogy of films about the world since 9/11 and the war on terror, including “My Country, My Country” (2006), “The Oath” (2010) and a forthcoming untitled doc that looks at the effect of prolonged international conflict in the U.S. After an early start in experimental film, Poitras studied filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute and the New School and has mainly focused on contemporary social issues.
Founder of Altamura Films, the 37-year-old Mexican-born Almada addresses social issues that affect both Mexicans and Americans in non-linear films such as “El General” (2009) and the drug-trafficking investigation “El Velador” (2011). Almada received degrees from the College of Santa Fe and the Rhode Island School of Design, and her additional films include “All Water Has a Perfect Memory” (2001) and “Al Otro Lado” (2005).
“These extraordinary individuals demonstrate the power of creativity,” said MacArthur president Robert Gallucci of the 2012 recipients. “The MacArthur Fellowship is not only a recognition of their impressive past accomplishments but also, more importantly, an investment in their potential for the future. We believe in their creative instincts and hope the freedom the Fellowship provides will enable them to pursue unfettered their insights and ideas for the benefit of the world.”
Additional fellows include a pediatric neurosurgeon, a marine ecologist, a journalist, a photographer, an optical physicist and astronomer, a stringed-instrument bow maker, a geochemist, a fiction writer and an arts entrepreneur. The financial support the MacArthur Fellowships provide comes with no requirements or stipulations for its use.