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RTVF Assistant Professor J.P. Sniadecki Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

J.P. Sniadecki, assistant professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film and acclaimed documentary filmmaker, is among the 2017 recipients of the Guggenheim Fellowship. Sniadecki is the sixth Guggenheim fellow in the department.

Sniadecki is a filmmaker and anthropologist working in China and the United States; works of his have been included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in both New York and San Francisco. He uses the camera’s lens to explore collective experience, sensory ethnography, and the possibilities of cinema. His films include Chaiqian/Demolition (2010), winner of the Joris Ivens Award; Foreign Parts (2010), winner of two Leopards at Locarno and named Best Film at the Punto de Vista Film Festival and DocsBarcelona; People’s Park (2012), named Best Anthropological Film at Festival dei Popoli; and Yumen (2013), named Best Experimental Film and Best Chinese Film at the Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival. The Iron Ministry (2014), became A.O. Scott’s “Critics Pick” in The New York Times and won the top prize at L’Alternativa Film Festival and jury prizes at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Valdivia, and Camden. Sniadecki’s latest feature, El Mar La Mar (2017) won the prestigious Caligari Award during its international premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival.

“It is a great honor to be named a Guggenheim Fellowship,” Sniadecki says. “And, during this time of uncertainty over national funding for the arts, I feel incredibly fortunate for the opportunity and support to continue and deepen my work in exploring the expressive and formal possibilities emerging from the intersection of art, anthropology, cinema, and technology.”

In an announcement April 6, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded 173 Guggenheim Fellowships to a diverse group of scholars, artists, and scientists who demonstrated productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. The candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in a competition that’s been held annually since 1925. The fellowship gives the winner the opportunity to work on a special project for a year.

Sniadecki said he will use the grant to continue his work and research, adding he is currently working on a number of projects.

He explains: “One is connected to Rainbow Farm, which was a gathering space for freedom and self-expression established in Vandalia, Michigan by two life-partners, Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rohm. Their vision of liberty ran into conflict with the local authorities, and eventually came to a violent end when both men were shot and killed on their property after an armed standoff with police in 2001, one week before 9/11. I am also working on a new film project in China that is a transposition of the 7th century story of Princess Wencheng’s journey to Tibet to contemporary times, as well as another film essay that explores stranger sociality, the aesthetics of the everyday, and the shifting material and cultural landscape of Beijing’s few remaining hutong neighborhoods.”

David Tolchinsky, RTVF department chair, congratulated Sniadecki on his win.

“He’s a brilliant filmmaker and his Guggenheim project sounds fascinating,” Tolchinsky says. “I can’t say I’m surprised. J.P. has been having a great few years – with screenings at the Whitney and prizes at the Berlin International Film Festival. J.P. is definitely on a roll, and deservedly so.”

The five additional RTVF Guggenheim fellows are Thomas Bradshaw, Rebecca Gilman, Eric Patrick, Lynn Spigel, and Laura Kipnis.

-Cara Lockwood