James N. Kienitz Wilkins

JAMES N. KIENITZ WILKINS received support for Mediums, a 45-minute narrative short centered around the jury selection process known as “voir dire.” This process is when a pool of prospective jurors are questioned about their backgrounds and biases before being chosen. In ideal form, it could be described as a trial before the trial to select those who best represent society. The setting of Mediums is the exterior of an upstate New York courthouse, where participants smoke and drink coffee before, during, and after a day of jury selection. While on break, they naturally form groups and alliances and learn from each other. This trade of information and the small dramas of a single day is the focus of the film. As an experimental narrative, Mediums takes literally the definition of voir dire (“to say what is true”), by collaging original dialogue with texts collected from the internet and found in the world, including jury selection pamphlets, automotive manuals, union constitutions, fast food franchise contracts, health insurance primers, blog posts and more. Bits and pieces from these sources are woven into the fictional dialogue as informal quotations (to be acknowledged in the end credits). As such, each juror-character is a sort of “medium” of specific, real-world knowledge. They each possess a unique expertise as well as a problem to be solved. As the day progresses, they trade tips and insight, finding common ground in a show of civic participation extending well beyond—and literally external to—the legal requirement of jury duty.

About this grant

Film and Video
Grant Program
New York City Film and Video
New York City

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Guidelines and more information about the new Artist Fellowship program are now available. The application deadline is Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at 4 pm Central / 5 pm Eastern Time.

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