Feb 10, 2008

Helen Hill Awards announced

(45 days 'til Orphans 6)

Naomi Uman
(Mexico City / L.A.)
Jimmy Kinder
(New York City)

The Orphan Film Symposium at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts and its partner, the University of South Carolina Film Studies Program, have named media artists Naomi Uman and Jimmy Kinder recipients of the 2008 Helen Hill Award. The filmmakers will screen and introduce their latest productions at the symposium, March 26-29.

The new award honors independent filmmakers whose work embodies the spirit and creativity of the late animator Helen Hill (1970-2007). Jurors intended to give only one prize, but they were impressed by two outstanding artists – and donors proved generous enough to fund them both. Uman and Kinder each receive funding to participate in the 6th Orphan Film Symposium, an international gathering of artists, archivists, curators, and scholars devoted to neglected films. The award also includes $1,000 worth of Kodak film stock.

Naomi Uman, an innovative filmmaker (Leche, 1998; Removed, 1999) who divides her time between Mexico and California, has been living on a farm in the Ukraine while making her latest work, Kalendar. Unbeknownst to the jurors who selected her for the award, Uman knew Helen Hill. Both artists earned an MFA from the CalArts program in Experimental Animation. Both made the hand-processing of celluloid negatives and tabletop animation their signature techniques. “Naomi Uman is the person who inspired me to understand that film is tough and can withstand a lot of play in the darkroom,” says Melinda Stone, who collaborated with her on the short Developing Memory (2002). “Naomi is a fearless filmmaker and she loves teaching others to experiment.”

Jimmy Kinder, while a student at The New School in 2007, purchased a WWII-era Castle Film on eBay. The 1944 newsreel depicted the U.S. bombing of Truk atoll, the Pacific island that had been his grandparents’ home. In Grandfather, his first 16mm production, Kinder intercuts the found footage with his own hand-drawn direct animation. One of the award jurors, filmmaker Laura Kissel, notes that the moving piece “scavenges archival footage of war and juxtaposes it against handwritten notes that remember his grandfather. This cameraless film insists upon the personal in an age of violence and war.”