ITVS Filmmakers Awarded MacArthur Genius Grants

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation gave 23 awards this year. The two awards for filmmakers went to ITVS documentarians.

Two ITVS filmmakers, Natalia Almada and Laura Poitras, have been awarded MacArthur “genius” grants, which include a no-strings-attached, five-year award of $500,000 and an enormous pat on the back from America’s intellectual community.

“You usually have to apply for something, and it’s a lot of work,” Natalia Almada, producer-director of El General (2009), told the New York Times. “It’s such freedom to think I can count on something. It’s huge. It’s validating.”

Almada, a citizen of both the U.S. and Mexico, has explored Mexican history and politics in nonlinear documentaries that push the boundaries of the form. Laura Poitras produced and directed My Country, My Country (2006), which told the behind-the-scenes story of the January 2005 elections in Iraq. Poitras has also directed The Oath (2010), filmed in Yemen and Guantanamo Bay, and co-directed Flag Wars (2003).