James N. Kienitz Wilkins will receive the 2016 Kazuko Trust Award, a grant presented by the Kazuko Trust and the Film Society of Lincoln Center in recognition of the excellence and innovation of an artist’s moving image work. Wilkins’s latest short film, Indefinite Pitch, will screen on October 8 and 9 in Program 5 of this year’s Projections, sponsored by MUBI.
The Kazuko Trust was established upon the death of Kazuko Oshima, a patron of the Film Society and admirer of experimental film. It was her wish to contribute to this area of the film world after her passing, awarding the Film Society with a $50,000 grant for the purpose of creating a scholarship fund for worthy experimental filmmakers featured in NYFF.
Past recipients of the Kazuko Trust Award have included Laida Lertxundi and Michael Robinson, who received $5,000 grants during the Trust’s inaugural year, as well as Dani Leventhal and Jean-Paul Kelly, who were awarded $10,000 grants in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Last year, Ana Vaz was given a $10,000 grant, and she returns to Projections with new work for the 2016 festival. Wilkins will be the Trust’s final grantee. The 2016 committee includes Projections curators Dennis Lim (Film Society Director of Programming) and Aily Nash (independent curator), Film Society Programmers at Large Rachael Rakes and Thomas Beard, and Chris Stults, Associate Curator of Film/Video at the Wexner Center.
“James N. Kienitz Wilkins is a prodigiously talented young artist,” said Beard. “His film Public Hearing, a quasi-Brechtian staging of an actual small-town debate over the replacement of a Walmart with a Super Walmart, is a testament to the rich possibilities still to be found in a cinema of reenactment. The more recent ‘Andre’ trilogy, with its manic gumshoe narration and enigmatically repurposed media artifacts, is a rather different project; it’s as though Hollis Frampton had adapted Raymond Chandler. And in his latest, Indefinite Pitch, what at first seems like a misguided proposal for a TV show, transforms into a dizzyingly tangential and meta-cinematic portrait of the post-industrial New England landscape. Watching these works we find a philosopher of the Wikipedia rabbit hole, and a style of moviemaking that resists standard definition.”
Reflecting on his practice, Wilkins says, “I’m interested in language and performance, and how media technologies are rife with loops, failures, and abstractions. Many of my projects incorporate monologue as a way to fuse original script writing with documentary sources: found text, found footage, interviews, dreams. I’m open to many techniques and approaches, and prefer not to be stuck on a signature style, instead discovering the economy of each piece and accepting that moving image is an art best suited to replicate human thought in all its contradictions: emotion and intellect; the crass and the refined; the bodily and the transcendent. I feel I’m lucky to be making movies in the age of the Internet. I would not be a filmmaker without its endless (and endlessly suspect) knowledge, and the chance for self-education and self-creation outside of established models. To me, experimental film is experimental thinking. It’s really that simple.”
James N. Kienitz Wilkins (b. 1983, Boston, MA) is an artist and filmmaker living in Brooklyn. His short films, features, and multimedia projects have been presented at international film festivals and venues including the New York Film Festival, Rotterdam, Locarno, Toronto (Wavelengths), Vancouver, CPH:DOX, MoMA PS1, Migrating Forms, Edinburgh (Black Box), and beyond. Past movies includes the experimental documentary feature Public Hearing (2012), and the short Special Features (2014), which won the Founder’s Spirit Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival 2015 and a Grand Prix at the 25 FPS Festival 2015. In 2016, he won the annual ART AWARD at the LICHTER Filmfest Frankfurt International for his short B-ROLL with Andre (2016), and was also selected as one of Filmmaker magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film.
He’s received grants and support from the New York State Council on the Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Jerome Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Experimental Television Center and Wave Farm, among others. Residencies include Triangle Workshops, Residency Unlimited, Vermont Studio Center and the MacDowell Colony, where he was awarded an NEA fellowship. He is a graduate of the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City.