On Monday, the MacArthur Foundation named the 23 new MacArthur Fellows for 2012, and among them were Natalia Almada of Mexico City and Junot Diaz of Cambridge, Mass.
Each year, Fellows are called out of the blue by the MacArthur Foundation informing them they are being awarded $500,000 of no-strings-attached support over the next five years. The recipients of the money are never aware they are being reviewed, so the call really is “out of the blue.” While the money can go a long way to help recipients, it is not possible to apply.
This year, 37-year-old documentary filmmaker Natalia Almada was selected as one of the Fellows.
“Almada is a filmmaker revealing rich new perspectives on Mexican history, politics, and culture in insightful and poetic films that push the boundaries of how the documentary form addresses social issues. A dual citizen of Mexico and the United States who has lived in both countries since childhood, Almada does not use conventional structures or techniques, such as interviews with specialists or a linear timeline. Instead, she incorporates powerful visual images and the observations of ordinary people she encounters with her camera into an intimate, multilayered form of storytelling.”
Another Latino on the list is Junot Diaz, a 43-year-old fiction writer born in the Dominican Republic. However, Diaz has lived in the U.S. since adolescence and now works at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Diaz’s writing gives “powerful insight into the realities of the Caribbean diaspora, American assimilation, and [the] lives lived between cultures.”
“These extraordinary individuals demonstrate the power of creativity,” said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci. “The MacArthur Fellowship is not only a recognition of their impressive past accomplishments but also, more importantly, an investment in their potential for the future. We believe in their creative instincts and hope the freedom the Fellowship provides will enable them to pursue unfettered their insights and ideas for the benefit of the world.”
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society.