14 December 2011

Hello to all yet again!  We hope 2011 has treated you well and that you are enjoying your holidays so far!

Thanks to your continued support and concern, the Foundation continues to thrive, as 2011 saw the continuation of Dartmouth College’s James Joseph Kaplan Filmmaker of the Year Award (now affectionately referred to as the ‘Kaplan Award’), as well as Ithaca High School’s James Joseph Kaplan Independent Spirit Award (‘The Independent Spirit Award’), now in its third year.

We are pleased to announce that the second Kaplan Award went to the lovely and talented Dylan Leavitt!  As noted by the Dartmouth Film Department:

“Dylan seemed the ideal candidate because she has been a wonderful presence in the department for years. Dylan is one of our very best students. Her enthusiasm, commitment, and finished work have always been in advance of her peers. Last year, in fact, the department gave her a prestigious award usually reserved for seniors. Dylan is well-liked by all the faculty members as well as by her classmates. She is a very good-humored person, enthusiastic and professional at the same time.

This year she proposed a two-term Honors project consisting of producing a documentary short about a vintage clothing store in Boston and the live-wire, somewhat eccentric lady who runs it. While some were concerned that Dylan might run into unforeseen difficulties filming primarily in Boston, she laid out her contingency plans in such a way that everyone was convinced that she could handle any eventuality. Ambitious as well as creative, Dylan also wanted to insert animated sequences in the film despite never having taken an animation course. Working with our new animation professor, Jodie Mack, Dylan (as usual) handled this extra challenge easily, producing charming cut-out animation travel scenes interspersed with interviews. These sequences added an extra level of charm and wit to a film that was already lively and funny.

In addition to producing excellent and entertaining films, Dylan did very well in her history/theory courses, making her an ideal all-round film major. She not only impressed Film and Media Studies while at Dartmouth; she also received a Peter D. Smith initiative award to help fund her Honors project and worked (as a curator, I believe) at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in the summers.

In her humor, her easy-going temperament, her intelligence and discipline, and above all her outstanding work, the department agreed unanimously that Dylan embodies the spirit paid tribute to by the James Jay Kaplan Filmmaker of the Year award.”

And in Dylan’s own words:

“I was so honored to receive the award this spring…. I wanted to let you know that I was recently hired as the new Coordinator of Film and Video at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and am finding it exciting to get to learn more about how the film industry functions, from screening and writing to mailings and finances….So far I’m loving my workplace and getting to screen tons of films as I consider what my own and the Boston community’s tastes might be….”

We couldn’t be happier and more honored to have Dylan as the second recipient of the Kaplan Award.  Please feel free to visit her websites to view her work:



We continue to keep in touch with Anna Lotko, the award’s first recipient from 2010.  Anna moved to Los Angeles over the summer to begin graduate school at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where she’s working towards an MFA in Interactive Media.  Elle is particularly thrilled to have Anna in Los Angeles!

As with 2010, there were two recipients of this year’s IHS’s Independent Spirit Award- Elias Spector-Zabusky and Matt Heise!  Elias is a freshman at Brown University, and Matt is a freshman at Amherst College.  We look forward to keeping in touch and hearing from them as their freshman year progresses!

And of course, we continue to keep in touch with the Independent Spirit Award’s past recipients, Jacob Morris-Knower (a sophomore at Pamona College), Will Krasnoff (a sophomore at Columbia University), and Jacob Evelyn (a junior at Yale).  Yes, they continue to be awesome, although we wish they were a little bit smarter…

Many thanks to the Dartmouth Film Department and the Ithaca High School faculty, namely Leann Donnelly, for their continued help and contribution in giving the awards each year, as well as to all of you for your continued interest and support!