The Art of Storytelling
Deutsche Bank and Frieze Los Angeles Award New Film Prize

It is the chance of a lifetime: Ten young filmmakers have been selected to express their view of Los Angeles with the support of the renowned Ghetto Film School. Their short films have been nominated for the Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award, which is now being presented for the first time at Frieze Los Angeles. All of the films take unconventional paths.
In the last two decades, a revolution has taken place between contemporary art and the film industry. Visual artists like Sam Taylor-Johnson, Steve McQueen, and Julian Schnabel have conquered Hollywood as directors. And vice versa: Filmmakers are celebrated as artists and have major exhibitions—for example Wes Anderson and David Lynch. More than any other medium, film is being fused with new forms of storytelling. And as streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix have proven, the results can be radically experimental yet still reach a big audience. Art and film have been closely linked since the beginning of the twentieth century. But digitalization has led to the emergence of a dynamic visual culture in which the boundaries between art house and mainstream, between the art world and the film world, are dissolving increasingly.

Future generations of filmmakers and artists are benefitting from this. The fact that Frieze Los Angeles celebrated its premiere as a young art fair at Paramount Studios last year is more than a symbolic act. The entire city has grown up around the studios, its history inextricably linked to that of cinema and the entertainment industry. At the same time, they forged the creative infrastructure that made Los Angeles a twenty-first century art metropolis and a magnet for more and more people. Not only artists, gallery owners, collectors, and curators want to come to Los Angeles, but also young filmmakers and creative people who are searching for radically new forms of storytelling in the border areas between art and film, documentation and fiction. The Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award now offers them an innovative and highly effective platform. The prize was initiated by Deutsche Bank in partnership with the fair and the award-winning Ghetto Film School. Ten young filmmakers, aged 20 to 34, were selected after an open call and then intensively supervised by the film school, with mentors as well as practical and artistic support in a four-month program. Their task: to create a short film inspired by the artistic, social, or cultural landscape of Los Angeles.

The Ghetto Film School has a wealth of experience in supporting such projects. Originally founded twenty years ago by Joe Hall, a former social worker in New York’s South Bronx, as a non-profit organization to give young people from poor neighborhoods the opportunity to receive film training and to foster their creativity, the company opened a branch in New York in 2017 in addition to its office in Los Angeles. Its success is due to the fact that it offers a classroom study program and at the same time offers people the opportunity to gather hands-on experience in the entertainment industry. “There is so much more to the Ghetto Film School outside of fostering behind-the-camera filmmakers,” says Sharese Bullock-Bailey, the school’s chief strategy and partnership officer. “Our partners, who provide GFS students with immeasurable support, have been key at introducing them to other related avenues within the creative world. Outside of filmmaking, our graduates have gone on to become advertising producers, writers, managers, and set designers.” Many of the former students are still attached to the school long after they have graduated, considering it a “family.” One of them is Luis Servera, a scriptwriter and director, who graduated in 2004 and has since watched the school grow and develop. How does he explain the success? “They understand the power of storytelling and the power of the storyteller, no matter what their background is,” Servera says. “They also realize that education and opportunities to those with limited access are essential to cultivate and nurture unseen talent.”
A few of the ten Los Angeles-based filmmakers nominated for the Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award are career changers. They started out as visual artists, authors, or photographers, and one of them even studied psychology and neurobiology initially. Some have been producing their own films since their youth, while others are already working in the industry and have participated in international film festivals. What they all have in common is not only their love for film, but also their decision to seek their own distinctive voice and to take new and unconventional paths. This quest has already paid off for them. A top-class jury will vote on the contributions. The jury includes artist and director Sam Taylor-Johnson, artist Doug Aitken, Shari Frilot, who is in charge of the New Frontier section at the Sundance Film Festival, the renowned television director Jeremy Kagan, and Hamza Walker, the director of the well-known exhibition space LAXART. The nominated films will be shown during Frieze Los Angeles between February 14 and 16 at Paramount Pictures Theater and streamed online. The winner of the $10,000 prize will be announced on February 13 during a festive awards ceremony at the cinema. As exciting as the competition is, the ten entries simultaneously form a kind of Gesamtkunstwerk, an associative, diverse portrait of the city and the Ghetto Film School Fellows who show their perspective of it—and perhaps will even have an impact on the film metropolis Los Angeles in the future.

Deutsche Bank Frieze Los Angeles Film Award
Frieze Los Angeles

February 14 – 16, 2020
Paramount Pictures Studios, Hollywood