USA Media Panel for 2006

Arthur Jafa

Cinematographer and Artist, New York, NY

Elizabeth M. Daley (Chair)

Dean, University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles, CA

John Diliberto

Senior Producer and Host, Echoes, Philadelphia, PA

Joan Tewkesbury

Screenwriter, Director, and Producer of Television and Film, Santa Monica, CA

Rick Tejada-Flores

Producer, Paradigm Productions, Berkeley, CA

Elvis Mitchell

Film Critic, New York, NY

Statement by Joan Tewkesbury

During the week of October 9, 2006, the following events took place: North Korea tested a nuclear bomb. Grudge 2 came in first at the box office. The Speaker of the House was under pressure to resign. A private plane slammed into a Manhattan high-rise. A dot-com start-up company sold itself to Google for $1.65 billion. A teenager with a gun went to school and killed the principal. The war in Iraq reported escalated losses. Building a fence along the Mexican border was put on hold. Barbara Streisand, at her comeback concert, told a heckler to "---- off." In game four of the American League series, the Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees. And...On Friday the thirteenth, in a climate of reduction in economic support for art and artists, a small group of the caring, the concerned, and the critical gathered in Los Angeles to help award generous grants to artists working in film, media, and radio. Out of an eclectic group of applicants, seven were chosen, each one unique in his or her own field and each one holding up a mirror to reflect the chaotic confusion of a world straining at the seams. Employing new forms of technology or finding new ways to use old forms, these artists—dedicated to intimate, authentic stories—are encouraging you to step through the glass like Alice and participate. Each artist—in works propelled by sheer will, outrage, ridiculous juxtaposition, and dangerous beauty—compels you to get up close as you enter the kitchen, the bedroom, the ghetto, the immigrant's border, or health care on the "Res." Africa, America, the Seminole nation, Tijuana. Traditions and sacrifice, dreaming big dreams . . . murder, music, and revelations. . . laughing large to scare away death, the constant struggle to hang onto hope . . . In the final analysis each of these stories becomes your story too. In a world where major communication has become the sum total of a sound bite streaming across the palm of your hand, the idea that an organization would commit itself to rewarding an artist's storytelling vision is downright miraculous.