Two Latino filmmakers have been announced as 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellows: Rodrigo Reyes and Antonio Méndez Esparza. In total 173 fellowships were granted this year to a diverse group of scholars, artists, and scientists. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s ninety-third competition.
Rodrigo Reyes is an award-winning, Mexican-American filmmaker whose work has screened in nearly 50 film festivals around the world, including the LA Film Festival, BFI London and Guadalajara International Film Festivals, as well as the Documentary Fortnight at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, garnering rave reviews in the New York Times, Variety and other media outlets.
His film Purgatorio won several awards, including the Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the New Orleans Film Festival, while his hybrid-narrative Lupe Under the Sun won a Special Jury Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Named one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine, he is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow at the MacDowell Colony and was selected for the National Mediamaker Fellowship by the Bay Area Video Coalition. His work has received the support of Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Institute, California Humanities Council Film Independent, Pacific Pioneer Fund, NALIP, both the IFP Narrative and Documentary Labs, as well as the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE).
Exploring the stories that exist in the overlapping spaces between juxtaposed cultures and systems, Reyes' keen eye humanizes complex social issues and challenges our understanding of the forces driving our world and their effects on the individuals who have been pushed to its margins. He will use his Guggenheim Fellowship to work on producing his upcoming film, Sansón and Me, which examines the intersection between immigration, class and opportunity with the criminal justice system.
Antonio Méndez Esparza is a director and screenwriter, whose latest film Aquí y Allá premiered at Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, where it was awarded the Grand Prix. The film traveled to more than 60 film festivals around the world, including the New York Festival, Karlovy Vary, Moscow, Thessaloniki, San Sebastian, Tokyo, AFI Film Festival, Busan and Mumbai gathering great reviews and awards. The film premiered theatrically in the US, Canada, France, Netherlands, Italy and Spain. And it was broadcasted in Arte (France) and HBO Latino (Latin America).
Born in Madrid, Antonio earned a law degree before moving to the U.S. to develop his filmmaking career, where he earned an MFA from Columbia University. Antonio teaches directing classes at the graduate and undergraduate levels in Florida State University. Méndez Esparza's grant will provide integral support for the making of Life and Nothing More, his sophomore film. Set in Florida, the obstinate issues of family, race, and the legal system will be rooted in the story of the protagonists. We hope to follow the neorealist tradition.