October 1, 2021—Alex Rivera, the filmmaker who last October delivered the CLLAS Distinguished Lecture The Border as a Way of Seeing and also led a CLLAS teach-in, has been selected as a 2021 MacArthur Fellow. Known popularly as the MacArthur “genius grant,” the Fellowship is a $625,000 “no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential.” Twenty-five people from a variety of disciplines were selected this year to receive this prestigious award.
The MacArthur Foundation website lists three criterion for selection of Fellows: 1) exceptional creativity; 2) promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments; 3) potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.
Rivera has been telling ground-breaking Latinx stories for more than twenty years. His first feature film, a cyberpunk thriller set in Tijuana, Mexico, Sleep Dealer, won multiple awards at Sundance and was screened around the world. Rivera’s second feature film, a documentary/scripted hybrid set in an immigrant detention center, The Infiltrators, won both the Audience Award and the Innovator Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Rivera’s work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Tribeca Film Institute, and the Open Society Institute, among many other sources.