2021 Brendan Gill Prize Ceremony
Honoring John Wilson for "How To with John Wilson"
How to with John Wilson
“Equal parts hilarious and heartfelt, How To captures the city’s eccentricities and celebrates its unique character in a way that few works of art manage to do. The series deftly conveys what Brendan Gill himself called ‘the energy coming up out of the sidewalks.” – MAS President, Elizabeth Goldstein
John Wilson, documentary filmmaker and self-described “anxious New Yorker,” made his HBO debut as writer, director, cameraman, executive producer and narrator in 2020 with “How To with John Wilson.” The second season debuted in 2021 to critical acclaim and the show has been renewed for its third season at HBO. The series is a uniquely hilarious odyssey of self-discovery and cultural observation, as Wilson covertly and obsessively films the lives of his fellow New Yorkers while attempting to give everyday advice on relatable topics. The awkward contradictions of modern life are eased by Wilson’s candid, unpolished commentary and his distinct take on a range of deceivingly simple topics. Building upon Wilson’s previously released “how to” short films, the episodes take wildly unexpected turns, but are grounded in John’s refreshing honesty.
Following his graduation from college, John Wilson took an unorthodox path by spending a year working for a private investigator, an education that inspired his “documentary memoir” shooting style. Equal parts ethnography and autobiography, his films are all shot from the first-person perspective and underscored by his distinct, wry narration style. While Wilson’s anxieties flared amongst large film crews, he found his groove making hilarious “how-to” videos that he released for free on the internet. His short films “Los Angeles Plays New York” and “The Road to Magnasanti” were official selections of the 2016 and 2017 New York Film Festival.
About the Brendan Gill Prize
The Brendan Gill Prize was established in 1987 in honor of Brendan Gill by friend and fellow MAS board member Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis along with board members Helen Tucker and Margot Wellington. The Prize is given each year to the creator of a specific work—a book, essay, musical composition, play, painting, sculpture, architectural design, film, or choreographic piece—that best captures the spirit and energy of New York City. Past winners include Ang Lee, Louis Malle, Sufjan Stevens, Kara Walker, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, among many other prestigious awardees.
Brendan Gill Prize Jury
- John Haworth, (Brendan Gill Prize Jury Chair), Senior Executive Emeritus, National Museum of the American Indian/NY, Smithsonian Institution
- Randall Bourscheidt, Director, Archive of New York City Cultural Policy
- Roz Chast, Cartoonist, The New Yorker
- Patricia Cruz, Artistic Director and CEO, Harlem Stage
- Gail Gregg, Artist and Journalist
- Cassim Shepard, Urbanist, Filmmaker, and Author
- Laurie Beckelman, Not-for-profit Consultant
About Museum of the Moving Image
The Museum’s mission is to advance the understanding, enjoyment, and appreciation of the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media. The Museum fulfills its mission in person and online through temporary and permanent exhibitions; film screenings; live conversations with artists, filmmakers, scholars, media educators, and other industry professionals; articles published in MoMI’s online film magazine Reverse Shot and science and film resource Sloan Science & Film; access to the Museum’s collection of more than 130,000 objects; and the online presentation of a range of films–including acclaimed new release features and award-winning science shorts, plus archived video of Museum events, and more. The Museum’s Education department serves approximately 70,000 students each year, through guided tours of its exhibitions, educational screening programs, and hands-on workshops.
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