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Art, Film ‘Embrace’ at Tribeca Film Festival

The 13 winners of the Tribeca Film Festival's Artist Awards received more than the typical film festival prize of a check on Thursday.

NEW YORK — The 13 winners of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Artist Awards received more than the typical film festival prize of a check on Thursday. The Artist Awards, sponsored by Chanel, are a more personal expression of support from one creative group to another. Each filmmaker selected takes home a piece of art from the likes of Francesco Clemente, Ross Bleckner, Don Gummer, John Alexander, Stephen Hannock and Clifford Ross, among others.

This story first appeared in the May 2, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“It’s hard to make art, film, sculpture or music,” said Ross. “It’s nice when other artists embrace your work. I’m giving my embrace to a fellow artist who deserves it. There are cash grants that help these filmmakers with their next projects. This is a chance to acknowledge a fellow artist’s work, instead of giving people just a certificate or just cash. By adding the visual arts to the mix, Tribeca has enriched the festival.”

“Coco Chanel herself was a passionate supporter of the arts, as well as a friend and patron to many notable artists of her time in the fine art, theater, ballet and cinema worlds,” said Maureen Chiquet, Chanel’s global chief executive officer. “Chanel is deeply committed to continuing this tradition and the Artist Program of the festival was a natural progression. We are incredibly proud to support these inspiring artists.”

Ross donated “Harmonium I,” a 41-by-33-inch study of leaves printed in archival pigment ink on Japanese paper. Last year, one of the artist’s hurricane images was used for the Tribeca Film Festival poster.

“Harmonium I” is actually a piece of one of Ross’ landscape photographs, drained of color and blown up. “It’s a very tiny piece of a massive image,” he said. “I found small pieces I could develop into fully blown works.”

His landscapes are as romantic and detailed as any 19th-century Hudson River School painting. Ross, who started his career as a painter, turned to the camera because he “wanted to look at the world in a more realistic way.” His photograph of Mount Sopris, a snow-capped peak in Colorado framed by aspen forests with a lake at its base, captures the majesty of the mountain and an uncanny level of detail, such as the wood grain on barn shingles and trails miles away. Ross was able to achieve this feat with a camera he built and patented with a resolution 500 times higher than any ordinary model.

After photographing 14 mountains for his “Mount Redux” series, Ross began looking at the works more closely. “I spent five years making these perfect images of mountains and now I’ve spent three years dismantling them and making metaphoric work,” he said. “These were the highest resolution landscapes ever made. I could explore my images the way I could explore nature itself.”

Sasie Sealy, who directed “Elephant Garden,” received Ross’ “Harmonium I” as part of the student visionary award. Huseyin Karabey, who won the award for best new narrative filmmaker for “Gitmek: My Marlon and Brando,” took home “Bonfire,” created by Bleckner. The award for best documentary feature and “Liza Minnelli” by Timothy White went to Gini Reticker for “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” while Stephanie Green, who won the best narrative short award for “New Boy,” received “Air” by Clemente.