Filmmakers Billy Woodberry and A.V. Rockwell Are 2017 Guggenheim Fellows
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Filmmakers Billy Woodberry and A.V. Rockwell Are 2017 Guggenheim Fellows

Billy Woodberry, A.V. Rockwell
Billy Woodberry, A.V. Rockwell

On April 6 , 201 7 , the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation approved the awarding of 173 Guggenheim Fellowships to a diverse group of scholars, artists, and scientists.

Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s ninety-third competition. In all, forty-nine scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, sixty-four different academic institutions, twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia, and three Canadian provinces are represented in this year’s class of Fellows, who range in age from twenty-seven to seventy-nine.

Sixty-eight Fellows have no academic affiliation or hold adjunct or part-time positions at universities.

Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation, is enthusiastic about the Fellows in the class of 2017 : “It’s exciting to name 173 new Guggenheim Fellows. These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

2017 Fellows of note given this blog’s specific interests include filmmaker A.V. Rockwell, who we interviewed/profiled on this blog in 2014 (read that piece here); and one of the founders of the L.A. Rebellion film movement, Billy Woodberry whose feature film “Bless Their Little Hearts” (1984) has been written about a number of times on this blog. We also covered his installation film “The Architect the Ants and The Bees,” which he created in 2004, and has been showcased around the country.

Rockwell’s resume includes the short film collection Open City Mixtape, which has been celebrated for its brutal yet poetically humanized depictions of urban life; her bold and stylish narrative short “KIDS,” screened at top film festivals; Rockwell was also invited to study at the prestigious graduate film program of NYU Tisch School of the Arts where she was awarded full scholarship as a Dean’s Fellow; she was also handpicked to direct “The Gospel,” a music-driven short film commissioned by singer/songwriter Alicia Keys; and she was most recently named the winner of the 2016 Tribeca CHANEL Through Her Lens women filmmakers fellowship. Currently, New York-based Rockwell is developing her first feature-length narrative film and preparing to make her next directorial effort, “Feathers.”

The veteran Woodberry is a pioneer whose essential work, influenced by Italian neo-realism and the work of Third Cinema filmmakers, helped fuel the 1970s black cinema movement that we’ve come to know as the L.A. Rebellion. A filmmaker whose work has received numerous significant awards, and added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress (“Bless Their Little Hearts”) in 2013, Woodberry also directed “And When I Die, I Won’t Stay Dead” (2015), which was the opening film of MoMA’s prestigious Doc Fortnight in 2016. The film premiered at the 53rd Viennale, Vienna International Film Festival (2015), and has been featured at festivals nationally and internationally.

His short film / documentary, “Marseille Après La Guerre” (2016), is a portrait of dock workers in post-WWII Marseille, many of whom were of African descent, and pays homage to Senegalese film director, Ousmane Sembéne. “Marseille Après La Guerre” also received acclaim after international screenings.

Woodberry, who received his MFA from UCLA in 1982 where he also taught at the School of Theater, Film and Television, has also appeared in Charles Burnett’s “When It Rains” (1995) and provided narration for Thom Andersen’s “Red Hollywood” (1996) and James Benning’s “Four Corners” (1998). The filmmaker is currently a permanent faculty member of the School of Film/Video and the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts, where he has taught since 1989.

Congrats to both young Ms. Rockwell and the veteran Woodberry! This is a tremendous honor.

Since its establishment in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has granted more than $350 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, Turing Award winners, poets laureate, members of the various national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and other important, internationally recognized honors.

The Fellowship program remains a significant source of support for artists, scholars in the humanities and social sciences, and scientific researchers.

For more information on the Fellows and their projects, visit the Foundation’s website at

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