New class of MacArthur fellows includes two POV filmmakers

By Andrew Lapin

Two acclaimed filmmakers whose work has been featured on the documentary showcase  POV on PBS were among the 2012 “Genius Grant” recipients, announced Monday by the  John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Natalia Almada and Laura Poitras, along with the 21 other grantees, will each receive $500,000 paid over five years.

Almada, based in Brooklyn and Mexico City, produces works that spotlight the conflict and turmoil of individual lives in Mexico, as well as the complex realities of immigration. Three of her films have been featured on POV, including 2005′s Al Otro Lado and 2009′s El General. Her most recent work, El Velador (The Night Watchman), aired on Sept. 27 and is viewable online now. She is the first Latina filmmaker to receive the grant.

Poitras is best known for her planned trilogy of documentaries about the lasting effects of America’s approach to its War on Terror, the first two of which (My Country, My Country from 2006 and The Oath from 2010) have aired on POV. The Independent Television Service produced and provided funding for her debut feature-length film, 2003′s Flag Wars, which also aired on POV. An April article in Salon reported that U.S. authorities have detained and interrogated her without cause virtually every time she has returned to the country since the release of My Country, My Country.

Radiolab founder and co-host Jad Abumrad was a 2011 MacArthur grantee.

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