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2021 Oregon Media Arts Fellowship Honorees

The Northwest Film Center has announced that filmmakers Masami Kawai and Reed Harkness have been awarded the Oregon Media Arts Fellowship for 2021. The Oregon Media Arts Fellowship is an award given every other year for filmmakers who have shown a commitment to the moving image arts and pushing their practice with new and engaging work. The program is funded by the Oregon Arts Commission and administered by the Northwest Film Center.

The Artist Fellowships honor Oregon’s professional artists and their achievements while supporting efforts to advance their careers. Review panels look for Oregon artists of outstanding talent, demonstrated ability and commitment to the creation of new work.

“Now more than ever it is imperative that funds such as the Oregon Media Arts Fellowship are given to creatives whose past, current, and future works examine a deeper understanding of connection between story and audience. The work of this round’s winners  provides a foundational link of awareness toward the importance of the arts in societal growth.” —Ben Popp, Head of Artist Services, Northwest Film Center

This year’s Oregon Media Arts Fellowship is awarded to Masami Kawai and Reed Harkness.

Masami Kawai is a Los Angeles-born filmmaker, who now resides in Oregon. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at the University of Oregon. Kawai participated in Film Independent’s diversity program, Project Involve. She was a selected director in the Francis Ford Coppola One-Act play series. She also received the Sarah Jacobson Filmmaking Grant, the Panavision New Filmmakers Grant, and a fellowship from LA’s Visual Communications, which supports emerging Asian American filmmakers. Her work has screened at various venues, including the Rotterdam Film Festival, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, and Portland International Film Festival. She received her BA from Hampshire College, where she focused on Visual Arts, Radical Pedagogy, and Post-Colonial Studies. After graduation, she devoted herself to community organizing before pursuing filmmaking again. She received her MFA in Directing from UCLA’s School of Film.

Reed Harkness attended film school in his backyard and garage. At age 18, he began making a series of short films starring his younger brother Sam. This was the beginning of a project two decades in the making: Sam Now, a coming-of-age film that follows his brother from age 11 to 34. The film was selected by ITVS Open Call and is now in post-production. Reed previously directed the award-winning 30-minute documentary Forest on Fire about the 2017 wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge started by a teen who threw a lit firecracker off a hiking trail–stranding more than 150 hikers– and how, much like wildfire, a news story can spin out of control. He also created House on Fire for Topic Studios, a series of short documentaries where people are given the spontaneous prompt that their house is on fire and told they have only two minutes to save just one thing. Reed was recently selected as a Film Independent Fellow and participated in their Documentary Lab and Fast Track programs. He has worked on film projects for Laika, p:ear, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ecotrust, Travel Oregon, Pink Martini and many other Oregon-based projects.

This year’s Honorable Mention is Laura Heit.

Laura Heit is an experimental filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist. Disquieting and evocative, her films and performances seamlessly cross genres to unfold poetic visual narratives. Heit employs a strong handmade aesthetic, an irreverent sense of humor, drawing, puppetry and animation, to bring together ideas that visualize the unseen and unseeable. Screenings include; Rotterdam IFF, Annecy, Hong Kong IFF, London IFF, Oberhausen IFF, Ann Arbor Film Festival (1997, 2012. 2015), Black Maria, Walker Art Center, MOMA, Millennium Film, the Guggenheim Museum, REDCAT, Aurora Picture Show, Pacific Film Archives. Her installation work has been shown at Adams and Ollman, Portland; Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID.; Schneider Museum of Art, Ashland, OR.; Ballard Institute, Storrs, CT.; She Works Flexible Houston, TX; Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, OR; and others. She has received grants and awards including a 2016 Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship, Oregon’s Regional Arts & Culture Council Project grant, and the 2014 Innovation Award, Henson Foundation (2009, 2014), ARC California, Illinois Arts Council, Thames and Hudson, The British Council, and the MacDowell Colony. She was the director of the Experimental Animation Program at CalArts until 2011. She currently teaches in the Animated Arts Department at Pacific Northwest College of Art and lives in Portland, OR.

2021 Jurors

Ron Craig: Filmmaker, author, and Executive Director of the Astoria International Film Festival, has a 16-year history with the enslaved African American explorer York, beginning with a 1999 documentary, Who Was York? A New Look at the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Craig attended the 2001 White House ceremony in which York received the honorary rank of sergeant. A frequent speaker about York, Craig served on the design team for the Lewis and Clark Expedition Commemorative Coin in 2004. Craig has received multiple awards for his work on York including the African American Preservation Alliance Award in 2005; the Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Documentary for his work The Undiscovered Explorer: Imaging York (for which he also received the Clarion Award in 2006, and a Regional Emmy nomination for his documentary, Searching for York (Oregon Public Broadcasting).

Nora Colie is a film curator, film and photo archive researcher, and the managing director of the POW Film Festival, Portland’s premier film festival highlighting films by women and non-binary directors. She recently completed her first story for OPB’s Oregon Art Beat and fancies herself a filmmaker.

Devin Fei-Fan Tau is a gay, Asian-American filmmaker whose storytelling speaks out against the imposed silence he experienced from both his native and adopted cultures since immigrating to the United States as a child four decades ago. After Directing and producing 10 short narrative and documentary films, Tau had his first feature film, Who’s on Top?, a documentary narrated by George Takei about LGBTQ+ climbers summiting Mount Hood, selected for screening in the Northwest Film Center’s 44th Portland International Film Festival in March before its release in May 2021. Tau is currently in pre-production on an upcoming feature narrative, Half Sisters, and a commissioned feature documentary, The Road Home. Through his film production company, No Sunrise Wasted, he and his team also direct and produce corporate and other branded content.

For more information about the Oregon Media Arts Fellowship visit https://nwfilm.org/filmmaker-resources/grants-fellowships/