On November 5, the Reelworks 2014 Gala Benefit honored "Salaam Bombay!" director Mira Nair and "Super Size Me" filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who spoke about the importance of storytelling and film training.
"If we don’t tell our own stories no one else is going to bother," said Nair who received the "Inspiring Artist Award." The director also mentioned "marrying" her Uganda-based organization, Maisha Film Lab, with Reelworks to make a greater impact.
Nair recalled watching 1970’s "Love Story" as a teenager in New Delhi, which prompted her to apply to Harvard. "That place looks rich enough to give me a scholarship!" said Nair of her impression at the time. "I was so lucky to be able to take a course with Ricky Leacock and it changed my life," she said of learning from the "Direct Cinema" pioneer.
When it was Spurlock’s turn to speak, he amused the audience by saying of Nair, "She’s made movies that have changed the world—I have a mustache!"
The "Innovative Filmmaker Award" winner’s tone turned serious when he spoke about authenticity. "Be true to your voice. That’s what I encourage young filmmakers to do all the time," Spurlock said. He also stressed the importance of organizations like Reelworks for young filmmakers. "You can find someone who can say, ‘You have the ability and the passion and the drive to make you dreams come true,’" Spurlock explained. He pledged to donate camera equipment to the organization and help out with internship and work opportunities.
Reelwork’s co-founder, John C. Williams, remarked on the organization’s success: "We never imagined that our particular approach to teaching and mentoring young filmmakers would be recognized as one of the leading arts programs in the United States."
The major announcements of the night included the naming of NBC’s $5000 F. John Outcalt scholarship winner, Dexter Dugar Junior. The evening was a testament to the power of mentorship, education and young filmmaking programs.