Not only is there a surprisingly vibrant break-dancing scene in the blue-collar town of Middletown, Conn., but the rivalry and religious tension between the two crews makes for a compelling dance-filled documentary.
That’s why Brooklyn resident Bridget Palardy, who made the short film Middletown B-Boys, won the inaugural JT3 Artist Award of Distinction.
“I am incredibly humbled and honored to receive this award. It means a lot to me to be able to show Middletown B-Boys to such a supportive audience and also have the opportunity to meet talented film professionals. I am thankful to the Thompkins family for starting this Foundation, and inspired by Jesse’s life and his passion for film,” Palardy said.
She and four other exciting and innovative young filmmakers from Brooklyn were honored at the first-ever JT3 Artist Awards at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on October 22, 2009 in a celebration featuring director Adam Brooks (Definitely, Maybe) and hosted by Tony-award nominated actor Brandon Victor Dixon.
A non-profit foundation created in memory of the dynamic young writer/director/producer Jesse Thompkins III, who died in a tragic traffic accident last year, JT3 Art aims to support its namesake’s love of film by helping to cultivate emerging movie makers.
Brooks, for whom Jesse worked as an assistant on Definitely, Maybe, presented the Award of Distinction to Palardy for Middletown B-Boys and for her short script, Spark, a coming of age story set in an oppressive future. Spark is currently in post-production.
“Jesse was a young filmmaker of great talent and promise. Tonight we honored that promise by supporting other talented young Brooklyn filmmakers like Bridget, whose wonderful film Jesse would have loved, and who exemplifies the spirit of the JT3 Art Foundation,” said Brooks.
JT3 Art chose Brooklyn as the focus of their 2009 grant program because of Jesse’s passion for the neighborhood. Brooklyn was not just a place where he lived. He found frequent inspiration for his many short films on her streets.
“The strength of these awardees shows that Brooklyn is teeming with talent. Each of these winners has visible talent, a singular voice, and has already found a way of expressing their ideas on big and small screens,” said Jesse’s former mentor, Jennifer Lawson, general manager at Howard University’s WHUT. “I am amazed at the foresight of the Thompkins family in honoring their late son in this manner. It uplifts the abilities of these artistic young media artists and keeps their son’s memory alive.”
The night’s other awardees included:
Nikyatu Jusu who won her short film, African Booty Scratcher, about a West African teen forced to reassess her alliances as prom nears, and for her short script, Say Grace Before Drowning, about a young girl meeting her African refugee mother for the first time in six years. Say Grace Before Drowning is currently in post-production.
Wendy James who was recognized for her short film, LaTonya, about a teenager who loses her virginity to her best friend, and for her short script, Bedstuy Project, about growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Chioke Nassor who had submitted his feature-length screenplay, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, based on Dave Eggers’ semi-autobiographical novel, as well as a short movie, breakup, about what makes a relationship special.
Andrew Brotzman, whose award was accepted by his producer Veronica Nickel, who won for his short movie, My Mom and Dad, about a childless couple that discovers an abandoned puppy, and for his feature length screenplay, Nor’easter, set in North Haven, Maine.
JT3 Art (jt3art.org) was honored to be able to offer their award winners support, beyond their cash grants, in the form of mentorships from four of the film/television professionals who judged the applicants, and also a one on one call to discuss their winning projects with executives at the cable television network F/X.
The evening at BAMcafe, which fêted both the work of these impressive up-and-comers and the life and oeuvre of Jesse Thompkins III, also featured live music presented by indie label roc-elle records, a start-up founded by Thompkins' frequent collaborator and Brooklyn resident, Rachel Mary Cox.
The inaugural JT3 Art Celebrates Young Filmmakers event would not have been possible without Diamond sponsor, Reginald Van Lee; Gold sponsors, Maggie Brown Restaurant and The Birkby House; Celebration sponsor, Sanjay Govil of Infinite Computer Solutions; Individual sponsors, Steve Friedman, Janice Bergin and Jennifer Friedman; and silent auction donors, the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, Houlihan’s Restaurant, the cable television network F/X, Apostle Films, Apple, Joe Louis Ruffin, Kathleen Brumbaugh, and Bertha Cahn.
JT3 Art’s goal is to assist promising individuals so they can devote more attention to developing their artistic gifts. Since jobs on local movie sets are scarce, and with the uncertain future of the tax credit that brought so many productions to New York and its boroughs, continued employment for those with jobs is not guaranteed. Rather than devote all, or even part, of their time pursuing their craft, aspiring filmmakers often must turn to jobs outside their chosen field in order to make ends meet and/or to pay off their student loans. Too many of these artists then find they have little time or energy to work at their craft in their downtime, slowly allowing their creative dreams to fall by the wayside. JT3 Art wants to help change that. With the successful launch of the JT3 Artist Awards program, JT3 Art looks forward to continuing to offer support to filmmakers in the forms of funds, and exposure to industry professionals.