Jewish filmmaker Josh Oppenheimer was just announced as one of 21 new MacArthur fellows this year. The award is often referred to as the “Genius Grant.”
Oppenheimer, 39, received the recognition for his film “The Act of Killing,” which provides a raw take on the Indonesian genocide of 1965-66. Oppenheimer interviewed past gangsters and death-squad leaders and prompted them to reenact their crimes using cinematic elements of their choosing.
In an interview with The Jewish Week last year, Oppenheimer mentioned his grandfather’s narrow escape from Frankfurt before the Holocaust. Most of his stepmother’s family perished in Nazi death camps.
The notion of “never again” applied to genocide prevention after the Holocaust means, “Never again to anybody, not just us but anybody,” said Oppenheimer.
The MacArthur Award recognizes creativity surrounding international, domestic, political, human rights and social justice issues.
Award recipients do not know of their nomination until they have won the award. Winners receive a 5-year grant totaling $625,000.
Last year, two Jewish scientists were among 24 MacArthur fellows: Carl Haber, for his work in audio preservation; and David Lobell, an agricultural ecologist. The scientists are from Berkley and Stanford, California, respectively.