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Jennifer Reeder – current bio

Jennifer Reeder constructs personal films about relationships, trauma and coping. Her award-winning narratives are innovative and borrow from a range of forms including after school specials, amateur music videos and magical realism. These films have shown consistently around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival, The Berlin Film Festival, The Venice Biennale and The Whitney Biennial.

Her most recent short, BLOOD BELOW THE SKIN world premiered at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival won Best of the Fest at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.

Another recently completed short film, A MILLION MILES AWAY screened at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. This film world premiered at the 2014 Rotterdam Film Festival and was nominated for a TIGER AWARD. It has won numerous awards nationally and internationally including the Zonta Award at Oberhausen, a directing award at Vienna Shorts and the Eileen Maitland award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. A Million Miles Away also won the grand prize at the Encounters film festival in the UK and the Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, both of which qualified it for Oscar nomination consideration.

She is currently in development for two new films--a teen feature length film set in Rural Kentucky called AS WITH KNIVES AND SKIN and a speculative fictional take on Hansel and Gretel called ALL SMALL BODIES. All Small Bodies is a mid-length European Co-production between the USA, UK, Germany and France. As With Knives and Skin is being partially funded by a Creative Capital Grant.

A recent collection of her short films was featured in a solo event at the 2015 London Short Film festival, The 2015 Wisconsin Film Festival, the 2015 Glasgow Short Film Festival and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago also in 2015. Her films were additionally featured in a profile at the 2013 Viennale in Vienna Austria.

Solo or two-person events include: Reykjvik Museum of Art in Iceland, Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, ASU Museum of Art, La Casa Encendida in Mardid, the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm Sweden and many others. Group events include: Ann Arbor Film Festival, Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Stuttgart FilmWinter, Dokfest Kassel, New Filmmakers LA/NY, The New York Video Festival, at The Lincoln Center; Double Heart/Hear the Art, at the Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria; The 2000 Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art; In the Middle of Nowhere at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; Generation Z at P.S.1, New York; The 48th International Venice Biennial, Venice, Italy.

She was nominated for the 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008 Rockefeller Grant for Film/Video/New Media and was also nominated for a 2001 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award for visual art, a 2004 Richard H. Dreihaus Foundation Award and a 2012 A-38 Production Grant (Kassel Germany). She is a 2010 Efroymson Family Fund Fellow. She is currently nominated for a USA Artist Grant and is the recipient of a Creative Capitol Award, which will fund her first feature length film.

She recently founded a social justice initiative called TRACERS BOOK CLUB which has been featured recently at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and won a Propeller Fund Grant for a year of radical programming around the theme of “women’s work.”

Jennifer received an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently an Associate Professor in Moving Image and the Head of the Art Department in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She lives in Indiana with her three young children.

Career Narrative

The Brief Backstory:
I am an experimental filmmaker and I have produced over 45 film/video works since picking up my first camera. My interest in writing and directing narrative projects is not a rejection of the radical video-art history I am part of and proud of. The trajectory from my earlier, perhaps more obviously agenda-based film/video projects, to my more recent projects is direct and organic. My practice remains a form of social justice.

I construct personal stories about the experiences of marginalized women – adults and children. My award-winning narratives are unconventional and borrow from a range of forms including after school specials, amateur music videos and magical realism.

In Production/Development:
I am currently in pre-production for a short film called CRYSTAL LAKE, which is a fictional portrait of a group of Muslim teen girls who take over a skate park in the middle of the night. This group of skaters strap helmets over hijabs and form an all-female force field on the half pipe. There at night, with no boys around, they are thriving and visible. This film will be shot this coming June in Chicago and completed/released in January 2016.

I am also in development for a feature length experimental narrative called AS WITH KNIVES AND SKIN which is about a racially diverse group of teen girls surviving in impoverished rural Indiana who form a bond in the aftermath of another girl’s disappearance. This project was recently awarded funding from Creative Capitol. Production for this project will in production in the fall of 2016 and completed/released in January 2017.

I applied for Guggenheim funding with an experimental feminist science fiction film based on Grimms’ Hansel and Gretel called ALL SMALL BODIEs. My version is Gretel and Gretel and it takes on the future as a place of post-race/gender/sexuality. Although Guggenheim decisions are still in process, I had a successful meeting with a representative from ARTE (German-French broadcasting and production company) while I was recently in Berlin and they have indicated that they will help support this project which will mostly likely be in production in late fall/winter of 2015/16, in the German Black Forrest and completed/released summer 2016.

Recent and upcoming solo screenings (2015) include, the London Short Film Festival at ICA, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Glasgow Short Film Festival, The Wisconsin Film Festival and the Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen.

I just completed a short experimental narrative film, which I wrote and directed, called BLOOD BELOW THE SKIN. Funds were raised for this project with a successful kickstarter campaign and it also won awards from both the Indiana Arts Commission and the Sarah Jacobson Film Fund. This short narrative chronicles a week in the lives of three teenage girls. Two of the girls are falling in love with each other against all expectations and the third girl is forced to mother her own mother after her father gets sent to prison. Each girl seeks comfort within the walls of her bedroom where the music blasting from the turntable provides a magical synchronicity between them all. The title is a metaphor for a bruise and refers to the secrets that girls and women keep just below the skin. This film was supported by the Film/Video studio program at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus Ohio. BLOOD BELOW THE SKIN recently world premiered at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival and will additionally screen at Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Wisconsin Film Festival, The Florida Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, The Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen and The Melbourne Film Festival.

I have recently competed another short experimental narrative film called A MILLION MILES AWAY, which just screened in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. This film considers melancholy as a survival strategy in the American Mid-West. An adult woman (the conductor) on the edge of failing and a pack of teenage girls (the choir) simultaneously experience a supernatural version of coming-of-age. The transformation is equal parts tense and tender. It unravels patiently to the infectious beat of an 80s era heavy metal anthem rearranged as a lamentation. This film has screened extensively across North/South American, Europe and Australia has won awards from the Ann Arbor Film Festival, The Chicago Underground Film Festival, The Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Germany, The Vienna Independent Short film Festival (Austria) and it was nominated for a Tiger Short Award from the International Film Festival Rotterdam. AMMA won the Grand Prix at both the Encounters Film Festival in Bristol England and the Kurzfilmtage in Winterthur Switzerland, which qualified it for an Oscar nomination. This film received support by the Film/Video studio program at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus Ohio.

Social Justice Initiative:
Almost two years ago, I founded a social justice collective called TRACERS BOOK CLUB (, which promotes feminism as a means toward human equality. Tracers just won a $6000 grant from the Propeller Fund to support a year of radical programming around the theme of “women’s work,” called WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY. This series will feature a series of panel conversations addressing sex work, parenting, domestic labor and craft (art) traditions, along with a multiple film screenings and performances which will include a live reading of the newly revised Declaration of sentiments. All Tracers events are free and open to the public with free childcare provided.

Tracers continues to organize on-going radical crafting events called the FEMINIST PARKING LOT which considers and celebrates the radical handmade. These events are free, all ages and feature workshops for hair-braiding, quilting, doll-making, zine-making, screen printing, nail tip art, etc.

Tracers will be included in an exhibition about Chicago-based collectives called SHIFT which will open at the Glass Curtain Gallery at Columbia College in Chicago on March 19th. Tracers has had two solo exhibitions. One in Chicago at the Julius Caesar Gallery and another at the Hopkins Hall Gallery which is part of the Ohio State University. We have formally participated in multiple events at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. We have held informal (consciousness raising) gatherings and sponsored a series of panel discussions during (but not associated with) the 2014 College Art Association conference. These conversations included artists, activists, educators, scholars, students, mothers, etc. and rigorously considered feminism’s relationship to (1) motherhood, (2) race and (3) LGBTQ issues.

I am professionally represented by the Lux Center in London, KurzfilmAgentur in Hamburg, Andrew Rafacz Gallery in Chicago.

I am an Associate Professor with Tenure in the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago where I have been teaching full time since 2000. I am also the current Head of the Art Department. I primarily teach film and video courses at both the graduate and undergraduate level; curriculum includes writing, production, theory and history. This fall, I will submit my dossier for promotion to Full Professor.

I am a single mother living in Indiana with my three children ages 3-10.

Recent on-line press/interviews:

Selected Awards/Residencies
• Nominee, USA Artist’s Grant 2015
• Winner, Creative Capital Grant 2015
• Winner, propeller grant (TRACERS BOOK CLUB) 2015
• Nominee, Golden/Silver Bear, Berlin Film Festival, 2015
• Winner , Grand Prize, Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, (Oscar Nom qualifier) 2014
• Winner, IndieCork film Festival 2014
• Winner, Grand Prize, Encounters Festival, UK 2014 (Oscar Nom qualifier) 2014
• Winner, Eileen Maitland award, Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2014
• Winner, Zonta Award, Oberhausen Film Festival, 2014
• Winner, Best Director, Vienna Shorts, 2014
• Winner, Best Short Film, CUFF, 2014
• Winner, Indiana Arts Commission Grant, 2014
• Winner, Sarah Jacobson Film Grant, 2014
• Nominee, Tiger Award Competition, IFF Rotterdam 2014
• Nominee, A-38 Award, Dokfest, Kassel Germany 2012
• Finalist, Creative Capital Grant 2011
• Dean’s Prize, UIC College of Architecture and Art 2011
• Winner, Best Narrative, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Michigan 2010
• Winner Efroymson Fellowship 2010
• Winner Media Arts Residency, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus OH 2010
• Winner Dean’s Prize, College of Arch and Art, UIC 2009
• Nominee USA Fellowship 2009
• Nominee Rockefeller Foundation Media Arts Fellowship 2008
• Winner Artist in Residence Award, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH 2008
• Winner Artist-in-Residence, BAVC/SFAI/Rearden Studio, San Francisco, CA, 2005
• Winner AIVF Screenwriters Mentorship Program, NYV, 2005
• Nomination 2004 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Artist Award
• Winner Best Narrative Feature, CUFF 2003
• Winner Artist in Residence, the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus Ohio, 2003
• Nominee 2002 Rockefeller Grant for New Media
• Nominee 2001 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award
• Nominee 2001Rockefeller Grant for Film and Video
• Nominee 2000 Rockefeller Grant for Film


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