Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, second year student of the Film and Media Arts Department MFA Program, was awarded the Princess Grace Award the 2014 Graduate Film Scholarship.
The daughter of two artists, Hunt-Ehrlich was raised in an artist cooperative ,that provides professional facilities and services for its members , in New York’s Alphabet City neighborhood, and believes this world has shaped her identity as a visual storyteller.
“As a kid unconventional was the norm in my world - that has stuck with me and probably plays a big part in the politics of my work,” she says.
With a degree in Photography from Hampshire College, Hunt-Ehrlich utilized the rigid tools needed to capture the essence of people’s humanity through still images to expand her reach as a documentarian. Her training in photography helps her find new ways of seeing.
“The process of going out into the world and making portraiture was still of interest,” says Ehrlich. “But I wanted to be able to dig deeper into subject matter than I felt was possible within the confines of the still frame.”
Hunt-Ehrlich was selected by faculty in the Film and Media Department to be the nominee for the Princess Grace Award. Each film school is only allowed to nominate one graduate candidate per year. Temple has been among the top three universities in the U.S. to receive this award in the past decade.
Receiving the big news that she was the recipient of the Princess Grace Award, she cried. Hunt-Ehrlich called those close to her, and even sent a letter of thanks to Warren Brass, Professor in the Film and Media Arts Department at Temple, for helping her throughout the application process.
“Madeleine is driven by a strong sense of accountability to images of people of color,” says Bass. “Her documentaries are dynamic and surprising, as well as personal, political and profound.”
Bass sees this award as a great way for Hunt-Ehrlich to jump-start her career.
“Madeleine’s thesis film can afford the extensive travel and ambitious technical support it needs to become a work of social and artistic significance,” says Bass.
“One that can raise awareness and meaningfully affect the world,” he adds.
Hunt-Ehrlich received the Princess Grace Award for her thesis project, Sing the Body, which explores post-trauma journeys of women adapting to life with a prosthetic.
Created after Grace Kelly, The Princess Grace Award awards a $25,000 grant to emerging artists in the realm of theater, dance, and film through awarding recipients with grants, fellowships, and apprenticeships to grow further in their field.
For Hunt-Ehrlich, this award has provided lessons in self-validation of one’s own work before looking towards outside support for approval. Living within an art’s community, she has seen how grants were used as grounds of creating work, instead of being a reflection of one’s creations already.
“You can’t rely on the award to give you permission to make work,” says Ehrlich, “but when they do come around, you need to take the compliment and acknowledge for yourself that you are worthy of it,” she adds.
After Hunt-Ehrlich graduates from the FMA program, she plans to create a feature documentary within the next five years, as well as work on other people’s projects.
Hunt-Ehrlich believes film is important because it has the ability to shift our ideas about ourselves, and others.
“It's my tool for advocating for the underdog and saying to society “look, I think you aren't seeing how beautiful this is”,” she says. “There's a way that film cultivates empathy that is truly special.”