A lengthy application process typically precedes the win of any award or grant. It is rare, then, to receive an award without so much as submitting a name. But attach the word “genius” to the recognition, and a phone call from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation—well, you know where we’re going with this.
For documentary filmmaker and New School alumna Laura Poitras (BA ’96), The Call came on October 1, when she became one of the 23 MacArthur Fellows of 2012. Beyond the prestige of such an award, the grant comes with an unconditional $500,000 prize, bringing validation and security to their careers as they continue to explore their respective work.
Poitras has produced and directed nearly 10 documentary films since the late 1990s. Of these, her most significant work is a trilogy of feature-length films covering the United States’ post-9/11 war on terror. The three films (2006’s My Country, My Country, 2010’s The Oath, and a forthcoming untitled film) chronicle such issues as democratization in Iraq under American occupation, contrasting views of loyalty, and the consequences of extended combat individuals at home and abroad face.
Her films have been shown at the Sundance Film Festival, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, and the San Francisco International Film Festival, among others.
Poitras has also won the “True Vision Award”—an award for filmmakers whose work shows dedication to the advancement of nonfiction filmmaking—at the 2010 True/False Film Festival, as well as the Peabody Award at the 2003 South by Southwest Film Festival and nominations for the 2004 Emmy and Independent Spirit awards for the film Flag Wars.
For more information on Poitras’s work and recognition, please visit here.