Exploring Evolution From Culture to Climate: the Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award 2022 Faces Change Head-On

This year’s initiative, supporting emerging filmmakers, addresses the universal theme of ‘Facing Change’

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BY Matthew McLean in Collaborations , Frieze Los Angeles , Frieze Week Magazine | 14 FEB 22

When the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opened last September, cheek to cheek with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) — where, every year, the LACMA Art+Film gala sees the likes of Bong Joon Ho, Dakota Johnson and Ridley Scott arrive at the iconic Chris Burden installation, Urban Light (2008) — it seemed to be a perfect expression of the ever-growing intermeshing of contemporary art and cinema. Where once it was only the occasional Edward G. Robinson or Vincent Price who used their Hollywood fortunes to build important art collections, today the likes of Brad Pitt or Sylvester Stallone (both of whom attended the opening day of the inaugural Frieze Los Angeles in 2019) compete for contemporary masterpieces in an arena crowded with fellow actors and directors. The last 15 or so years have also seen more and more artists turning to cinema, with figures as different as Sam Taylor- Johnson and Julian Schnabel, Rashid Johnson and Steve McQueen directing features. Reception may vary, but still the days of uneasy switches from art to cinema — like Cindy Sherman’s Office Killer (1997) or Robert Longo’s Johnny Mnemonic (1995) — seem far behind.

Jane Chow, Sorry for the Inconvenience, 2021
Jane Chow, Sorry for the Inconvenience, 2021, winner of the Audience Award at the 2021 Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award

“I think this is a unique moment in history,” reflected the artist Doug Aitken when I spoke to him at Frieze Los Angeles 2020, “when we really see the histories converging.” We were talking at the ceremony for the Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award, which launched that year, granting ten selected fellows an expert mentorship scheme with the award-winning, non-profit Ghetto Film School that resulted in the production of ten short films. A jury, including Aitken, Sundance Film Festival’s Shari Frilot and LAXART’s Hamza Walker, awarded a prize of $10,000 to Silvia Lara for her poetic homage to her hometown of Whittier, Beauty Never Lost (2020).

“The extraordinary cohorts of artists we’ve worked with thus far are beyond impressive,” says Ghetto Film School’s Chief Strategy and Partnership Officer, Sharese Bullock-Bailey, “as are their efforts in storytelling and collaboration during unprecedented times” (in pandemic conditions last year, the ten selected fellows were mentored largely remotely, with their films premiering at a virtual ceremony). The award continues to evolve. In 2021, Endeavor Content, the studio that has co-produced hits including “Killing Eve” (2018–ongoing) and “Normal People” (2020), took a role in the award, adding another layer of expertise and access to the fellows’ experience. That Endeavor Content (of which Endeavor, Frieze’s parent company, owns a share) aims to connect with and support a new generation of artists is clear. “Finding and supporting young filmmaking talent like this,” Endeavor Content’s SVP for Development and Production, Dan Guando, said, “is the best part of my job. The Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award represents everything we stand for: supporting emerging filmmakers and creating great art.”

John Rizkallah, Dear Mama, 2021
John Rizkallah, Dear Mama, 2021, winner of the Jury Award at the 2021 Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award

In a further development, alongside the decision made by the jury — which this year features, among others, the painter and filmmaker Kehinde Wiley, who in 2018 created the official presidential portrait of Barack Obama — an additional Audience Award was launched in 2021, selected by votes from the public. In its first year, competition for the Audience Award was tough — no surprise, when Danny Leigh, chief film writer at the Financial Times, described the 2021 fellows’ shorts as “films of stellar promise” — and several thousand public votes were registered. Ultimately, Jane Chow’s Sorry for the Inconvenience (2021), set in a family-run Chinatown seafood restaurant, received the inaugural $2,500 Audience Award. John Rizkallah’s Dear Mama (2021), which explores the experience of immigration from the Middle East to Los Angeles, won the Jury Award.

For 2022, all the fellows have been invited to respond in their short films to a single theme: “Facing Change”. It’s a concept which resonates with Los Angeles itself, as a city that continues to transform rapidly, as well as broader global changes from the pandemic to climate. “This year’s theme is one that every one of us can relate to,” says Deutsche Bank’s Claudio de Sanctis, Global Head of the International Private Bank and CEO of EMEA. “I’m excited to see how our ten talented shortlisted filmmakers address the question we must all ask of ourselves in this new era: What can I do to help shape a more sustainable future?”

John Rizkallah, Dear Mama, 2021
John Rizkallah, Dear Mama, 2021, winner of the Jury Award at the 2021 Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award 

“Facing Change” could also equally be an apt description of the direction of Deutsche Bank’s recent efforts in the art space. Under the wider banner of creating “positive impact,” collaborations have increasingly focused on art as a vehicle for access and representation. Since 2020, for example, sales of special limited editions by leading artists John Akomfrah, Idris Khan and Yinka Shonibare CBE have raised funds for the Frieze Deutsche Bank Emerging Curators Fellowship, which offers paid placements to BIPOC emerging curators at leading UK art institutions. “The Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award is a natural extension of Deutsche Bank’s commitment to art and culture,” says Anna Herrhausen, Global Head of Art & Culture at Deutsche Bank, “which has been promoting contemporary art and supporting emerging artistic talent for over four decades. We are keen to support the Los Angeles film community in a truly meaningful way.” The simplest way for you to support this community as well? Go online, watch the ten emerging filmmakers’ shorts, and vote for your favourite. As de Sanctis says: “With the new Audience Award, anyone can watch the films and vote for a winner, making a local event even more global.”

This article first appeared in Frieze Week, February 2022 under the headline ‘Still Looking Ahead’.

Watch all films made by the fellows for the 2022 Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award in partnership with Endeavor Content and Ghetto Film School, and vote for your favourite to win the Audience Award

Main image: Jane Chow, Sorry for the Inconvenience, 2021, winner of the Audience Award at the 2021 Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award

Matthew McLean is creative lead at Frieze Studios. He lives in London, UK.

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