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Kimi Takesue is a Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Film. Her recent documentary
95 AND 6 TO GO is nominated for the 2017 European Doc Alliance Award and screened in competition at 15 international film festivals including CPH:DOX (Denmark); FID: Marseille (France); Doclisboa (Portugal); DOC NYC (New York City); BAFICI - Buenos Aires Festival of Independent Cinema (Argentina); Krakow International Film Festival (Poland) and the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival where it was awarded a Special Jury Prize. She is a 4-time MacDowell Fellow, most recently in residence in the summer of 2016. Click here to view trailer.

MacDowell is celebrating all of our filmmaker Fellows this year with the 58th Edward MacDowell Medal in film. We will be awarding the medal to David Lynch at our annual Medal Day celebration Sunday, August 13th. Click here to sponsor or purchase your picnic baskets!

What inspiring things are you watching/reading/listening to right now?

I recently saw an amazing performance, Radicals In Miniature, by Ain Gordon that had its world premiere at the Baryshnikov Center in New York City. It’s an intense, poetic, storytelling piece recalling un-gentrified New York in the 1970’s and 80’s. Gordon conjures up laser-sharp memories of unsung, now forgotten artists/icons who made an indelible mark on the alternative scene and, yet never achieved conventional “success”.

I also just returned from the Krakow Film Festival where I was exposed to a lot of contemporary Polish cinema and was struck by the number of films that explored themes of death, depression, suicide and loneliness. It sounds dark but I appreciated their willingness to tackle difficult subjects head-on.

Also recently enjoyed the poignant humor of Maren Ade’s film Toni Erdmann and the incisive cultural critique of Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Looking forward to reading Swing Time by Zadie Smith and possibly seeing Nick Cave on tour!

What is the best free advice you ever received?

My mother, Carolyn Anderson, is my role model in terms of moral compass. She is a big supporter of the arts/artists and visits the MacDowell Colony every year for Medal Day. She is loving and generous and taught me to return my library books and write “thank you” notes. It may seem obvious, but it’s rare these days. I try my best to show gratitude when folks have been kind— whether it means writing a thank you note to the Staples employee who went out of her way to find me an ink cartridge, or thanking the tremendous MacDowell staff for their amazing work, after a cherished residency.

What is your guilty pleasure? 

Every season I get sucked into watching reality shows: The Voice, The Great British Bakeoff and Junior Master Chef. In The Great British Bakeoff I love watching Mary Berry with her well-coiffed hair, perfect manicure, and colorful floral outfits nibbling on scones and commenting on perfectly glazed buns and buttery crumbly crusts. It’s all terribly civil. I’m also transfixed by Junior Master Chef; I’m inspired by the comradery shared between the mini-chefs and the intensity of emotion expressed on the show. They cheer, they laugh, they cry. When they are booted from the show they leave with a positive attitude and integrity intact. I’m truly in awe of their focus, creativity, ability to execute under pressure, and overall passion for food.

If you could live in another time and/or place, when/where would you choose and why? 

Most time periods seem fraught with war, high stress, and uncomfortable fashion. For the sake of sunshine, casual living, and fresh fruit, I’d opt for a tropical island. I’d also love to drift into the color, music, and romance of a Wong Kar-Wai movie mash-up. In this fantasy world there would be sexy glances, Astor Piazzolla, waterfalls, tango, Tony Leung, and wildly patterned cheongsam dresses!

Who or what has been the greatest influence on your work?

My bi-racial background has had a huge impact on my work and way of seeing the world. I was raised in Hawai’i and Massachusetts by a Japanese-American father and a Caucasian mother---my parents divorced when I was quite young so I grew up shuttling between different cultural zones. My split cross-cultural background impacted my way of seeing the world, and overall perspective as an “observer” of the world around me. Many of my films focus on cross-cultural encounters and deep observation. I’m interested in a visually driven, contemplative form of cinema, that allows the viewer the time and the freedom to engage with images, watch something unfold, and hopefully, begin to see and appreciate everyday situations in a new way.

Question from Stephen Karam: Have a recipe you've tried lately and enjoyed?  

I rarely cook but here is a recipe taped to the inside of my kitchen cabinet from my grandma Kimie Takesue who lived in Honolulu Hawai’i. Whenever I see my grandmother’s careful script handwriting, I’m reminded of her love and radiance. Whenever I visited her in Honolulu, I’d wake up to a wonderful morning breakfast of papaya, pineapple, and fresh muffins or biscuits. Here are her Sunshine Muffins:

1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 ½ cup Canola oil (I use 1 ¼ cup)
3 ½ cup Whole wheat flour
2 ½ tsp. Baking powder
1 ½ tsp. Baking soda
¾ tsp. salt (optional)
2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple (well-drained)
2 ½ cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped dates

Gradually beat sugar into eggs until light and fluffy. Slowly stir in oil. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in oil mixture, pineapple, carrots and dates.
Stir just enough to moisten dry ingredients.
Bake 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

What question would you like to ask the next Fellow? (Please provide your own answer, too!)

Where are some favorite places to go for a retreat and why? (other than MacDowell)

- Coastline of Korcula, Croatia with pristine, crystal clear water and spectacular rocky shorelines.
- Winter hiking in Joshua Tree, California. I love hiking the expansive, lunar landscape during the day and cuddling by a fire at night.
- Sand Souci beach near Waikiki, Hawai’i. Sand Souci beach was in walking distance to my grandparents house in Hawai’i. Occasionally, my grandmother would come along. She didn’t know how to swim so she’d sit on the shore in her wide brimmed hat and we’d eat macadamia nut ice-cream cones and flip through glossy magazines.

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