Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota is pleased to announce the four artists selected to receive the 2015 McKnight Fellowships for Media Artists. This year’s fellows are Eric D. Howell, Ann Prim and Tom Schroeder, of St. Paul, and Jesse Roesler of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“I was thrilled with the variety of artists chosen by the jurors,” said Andrew Peterson, IFP Minnesota’s Executive Director. “Documentary, experimental, narrative, and animation are all represented by these accomplished artists’ bodies of work.”

McKnightThe McKnight Fellowships for Media Artists support mid-career artists residing in Minnesota whose work is of exceptional artistic merit. The $25,000 fellowships will enable these four artists to study, reflect, experiment, and explore over a twelve month period with support and assistance from IFP Minnesota and the McKnight Foundation.

In addition to the cash award, the program supports its fellows by creating opportunities to meet with local and national art professionals, by organizing a public McKnight discussion series featuring the fellows, by providing assistance to attend the annual IFP Independent Film Week in New York City during the fellowship year, and by offering special class and workshop opportunities through IFP Minnesota.

The fellowships are funded by a generous grant from The McKnight Foundation and administered by IFP Minnesota.


2015 McKnight Media Artist Fellowships Recipients

eric_howell_700Eric D. Howell is an international-award-winning writer and director with experience in every aspect of motion picture production. After working his way through technical filmmaking, Eric joined the Screen Actors Guild in 1992 as a stuntman and actor. This experience propelled him into stunt coordination and 2nd unit directing. Feature credits include NORTH COUNTRY, JOE SOMEBODY, A SIMPLE PLAN, A SERIOUS MAN, among others.

In 2010 he was dubbed by Shoot! Magazine “one of the industry’s crop of new directors to watch,” and won the FADE IN Magazine 2012 Grand Prize. His short, ANA’S PLAYGROUND won top honors at twenty-plus international film festivals and was short-listed for an Academy Award nomination.

His latest short film STRANGERS, starring James Denton and Marta Milans, is gaining notice on the festival circuit. Currently he is in post production on his first feature film VOICE FROM THE STONE for producer Dean Zanuck starring Emilia Clarke and Marton Csokas.  He is represented by Jason Burns at United Talent Agency and managed by Michael Sugar and Jeff Okin at Anonymous Content.


ann_prim_700Ann Prim is a narrative and experimental filmmaker, sound designer and screenwriter. Before moving to Minnesota she lived in Boston where she was an exhibiting photographer and a musician signed to A&M Records. Upon moving to the Twin Cities in 2000 she turned her creative focus to filmmaking.

Prim has received a New England Arts Grant for Photography, was selected for the Photographic Resource Center’s New England Biennial in Boston and Chile and a recipient of two Jerome Foundation Film/Video Grants. Her narrative and experimental films have had national and international festival play. Locally her work has screened at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Saint Paul International Film Festival and has been broadcast on TPT for 6 seasons.

Prim attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia and finished her academic studies at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax.

Her most recent film, NOTES FROM THERE, is currently making the festival circuit.


jess_roessler_700Jesse Roesler is an Emmy-award winning filmmaker who has been making films since 2005. His motion pictures have been broadcast and screened in more than fifteen countries in festivals such as South by Southwest and Hot Docs. His debut feature documentary, THE STARFISH THROWERS was named “the most heartwarming film of 2014” by The Huffington Post. He has also created short films for passion-driven organizations and brands including Trek, GE, Saucony & Feeding America as a co-founder of Bolster, a boutique agency in Minneapolis. Jesse believes cinematic storytelling has the power to inspire immense positive change and speaks frequently on the subject to organizations like United Way and Best Buy.


tom_schroeder_700 Tom Schroeder has been making hand-drawn animated films since 1990. His films have been broadcast on Independent Lens, the Sundance Channel, Canal + France and Spain, SBS in Australia and CBC in Canada and have screened at the American Cinematique in Los Angeles and Anthology Film Archives in New York. The films have also played widely on the international festival circuit, including at Annecy, Rotterdam, Sundance, Ottawa, South by Southwest and Edinburgh, and have won over thirty festival awards. Schroeder received Minnesota State Arts Board Grants in 1991, 1999, 2006 and 2014, Jerome Foundation Film/Video Grants in 2000 and 2004, McKnight Artist Fellowships in 2006 and 2011, Bush Fellowships in 1997 and 2008 and a Rooftop Filmmakers Grant in 2013. He has directed commercials for Kashi, Samsung and Hertz Car Rental and is currently represented as a director by Global Mechanic, Vancouver, Canada.


Media Artist Fellow Profile Films


2015 McKnight Fellowships for Media Artists Selection Panel

There were three professionals who served as panelists, selecting four fellows from 74 total applicants.

Bill Guentzler is the Artistic Director of the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) now entering its 40th year. He joined the CIFF as a Cleveland State University intern in 1998.  Soon thereafter he was hired as a part-time film festival employee, and in 2000 a full-time Assistant Programmer position was created for him.  After years of different positions, he was promoted to Artistic Director in 2005.  Since he started at the festival, attendance has nearly tripled, the 39th CIFF in March 2015 welcomed over 100,000 attendees. As Artistic Director, he has served as a juror and panelist at numerous festivals throughout the world.

Elaine Sheldon is a Peabody award-winning documentary maker and visual journalist. Sheldon’s film and interactive work has been screened and exhibited nationally and internationally, from the New York Film Festival to the American Museum of Natural History. Her most recent project, HOLLOW, is an interactive documentary that examines the future of rural America through the eyes and voices of Appalachians. Hollow received a 2013 Peabody, 2014 Emmy nomination and 3rd Prize in the World Press Photo Multimedia Awards. In 2013, Filmmaker Magazine named Sheldon one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film. A graduate of West Virginia University (BS) and Emerson College (MFA), Sheldon is currently an independent filmmaker documenting the American South.

Rosie Wong is Associate Director of Industry and Alumni Relations for Sundance Institute. She oversees the Sundance Industry Office for the Festival and spearheads outreach for the Institute’s Alumni community, which includes past Program fellows and Festival Filmmakers. She has served on juries at various festivals, including Starz Denver Film Festival, Dallas International Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, and most recently the Ashland Film Festival and RiverRun International Film Festival. In addition, Wong has participated on numerous panels that cover aspects of independent film, including the annual Women in Film panel in the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival, and spoken to many film classes (including Carnegie Mellon, UCLA, and University of North Carolina Greensboro). Wong received a BA in Literature and MFA in Producing at UCLA. While at UCLA, she produced numerous student shorts, including Barrier Device (2002; directed by Grace Lee), which won a Student Academy Award. Wong has been with Sundance Institute since 2004.


About The McKnight Artist Fellowships

Founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive, The McKnight Foundation’s arts program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Support for individual working Minnesota artists has been a cornerstone of the program since it began in 1981. The McKnight Artist Fellowships Program provides annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in 10 different creative disciplines. Program partner organizations administer the fellowships and structure them to respond to the unique challenges of different disciplines. Currently the foundation contributes about $1.7 million per year to its statewide fellowships. For more information, visit


About The McKnight Foundation

The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. Through grantmaking, collaboration, and encouragement of strategic policy reform, we attend, unite, and empower those we serve. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the foundation had assets of approximately $2 billion and granted about $86 million in 2013, of which about 11% was directed to support working artists to create and contribute to vibrant communities. Learn more at, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.