JT3 Art Celebrates Young Filmmakers….for the love of film
October 22, 2009 Foundation event held at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcafe in Brooklyn, NY


From left to right: Wendy James, Chioke Nassor, Judy Thompkins,
Nikyatu Jusu, Bridget Palardy
(not pictured Andrew Brotzman)

JT3 Art hosted its inaugural JT3 Art Celebrates Young Filmmakers event at the BAMCafe. This amazing venue was well suited to the inspiring celebration of JT3 Art’s first five grantees, and the heartfelt tribute to Jesse Thompkins III’s love of film.

The event provided our five recipients the ability to show their movies, and meet and greet with industry professionals. This exposure of their work is part of our overall awards program to help garner them attention from the very people that can help further their careers.

The evening started off with the dulcet tones of Roland Ramos’s original songs. Mr. Ramos was accompanied by the bossa nova duo, Las Vandelays.

Emcee, Brandon Victor Dixon, a friend of Jesse’s from their days at Columbia University and an acclaimed Broadway actor, kept the audience entertained by creating seamless transitions between each portion of the night’s events.

Judith Thompkins, chair of JT3 Art, and Karla Nappi, co-chair of the JT3 Artist Awards committee gave affecting speeches on the efforts to create a positive out of the tragedy that brought about the Foundation and its mission to help emerging filmmakers.

Mikael Awake, graduate student at Syracuse University’s creative writing program and frequent film collaborator of Jesse’s who starred in Jesse’s series of “Young Brother” films, presented the first two awards of the evening to Chioke Nassor and Andrew Brotzman. Chioke and Andrew were each awarded $500.

Andrew was out of the country, but his producer Veronica Nickel accepted the award on his behalf. Andrew won for his short movie, My Mom and Dad, about a childless couple who discovers an abandoned puppy, and for his feature length screenplay, Nor’easter, set in North Haven, Maine.


Judy Thompkins, JT3 Art Chair

Chioke won for his short movie, Breakup, about the best part of a relationship - the middle, and for his feature length screenplay, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, based on the novel by Dave Eggers.

Jennifer Lawson, general manager at WHUT, Howard University’s television station and board member on PBS and American Public Television, along with Rick Derby, editor and documentarian who most recently worked on Rehearsal for a Sicilian Tragedy, presented the next two awards of the evening. Jennifer Lawson was one of Jesse’s first mentors when he started out as a filmmaker, and Rick Derby worked alongside Jesse on the feature film “Definitely, Maybe.”

Jennifer and Rick presented the $1,500 award to Nikyatu Jusu, and the $1,000 award to Wendy James.

Wendy won for her short film, LaTonya, about a teenager who loses her virginity to her best friend, and for her short script, Bedstuy Project, about growing up in Bedstuy, Brooklyn.

Nikyatu won for her short film, African Booty Scratcher, about a West African teen forced to reassess her alliances as prom nears, and her short script, Say Grace Before Drowning, about a young girl meeting her African refugee mother for the first time in six years. Say Grace Before Drowning is currently in post production.

Filmmaker Adam Brooks, the evening’s featured speaker, touched on the realities of working in the film industry and discussed Jesse’s pure love of film that sparked many conversations about what it is to be a filmmaker during their time as friends and co-workers. Jesse worked as Adam’s assistant on Adam’s last movie “Definitely, Maybe.”

Adam presented the final award of the evening to Bridget Palardy. Bridget was awarded the $2,500 JT3 Artist Award of Distinction for her short film, Middletown B-Boys, about two rival break dancing crews in Middletown, CT, and her short script, Spark, set in a high school of the future. Spark is currently in post-production.

From left to right: Wendy James, Nikyatu Jusu, Bridget Palardy,
Chioke Nassor (not pictured Andrew Brotzman)

Jesse’s close personal friend, Henry Eng, and Loren Hillian, who starred in Jesse’s short film Days Like These, spoke of their connection to Jesse, and his deep love of filmmaking. A short montage of Jesse’s films, as edited together by Bill Toles of Maroon Motion Media, was then screened.

Live music presented by indie label roc-elle records, a start-up founded by Thompkins' frequent collaborator, Rachel Mary Cox. During the film program, interludes were provided by two bands closely acquainted to Jesse: New World Acoustic Rock group Brazz Tree, founded by Mazz Swift & Brad Hammond, and Live Electronica trio ZXL, fronted by songwriter/producer Zack Hagan. Each performed songs Jesse had expressed appreciation for during his life. The final portion of the evening featured a DJ set by Jesse’s high school classmate Misha Davidson, professionally known as The Ish Master, who spun Jesse's favorite party tunes for the crowd's enjoyment.

An appetizing mix of fall themed sandwiches along with salad, pasta, and desert items were catered by Great Performances.

Sherly Rabbani of Rabbani & Solimene Photography was the Foundation's official photographer for the event.

The evening’s silent auction included: a two night stay at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, gift certificates to Houlihan’s restaurant, tickets to a Broadway show, t-shirts and hats from the television show Rescue Me, and from the cable television network F/X, and a 32GB iPod Touch from Apple tickets to a Broadway show donated by Kathleen Brumbaugh, two original oil paintings donated by artist Joe Louis Ruffin, and a Lenox vase from Bertha Cahn.


Filmmaker Adam Brooks, Production Designer Stephanie Carroll

Special thanks to our event sponsors without whom this event would not have been possible:

Diamond Event Sponsor
Reginald Van Lee

Gold Event Sponsors
Maggie Brown Restaurant
The Birkby House

Celebration Donor
Sanjay Govil of Infinite Computer Solutions

Individual Event Sponsors
Steve Friedman
Janice Bergin
Jennifer Friedman

Goods & Services Sponsor
Colorplus Playbills from Color Plus Printing provided gratis printing on our programs.
10% of every dollar that is spent with Color Plus Printing will be donated to JT3 Art. 501-612-3813

We also thank all our Volunteers, Donors, Sponsors, Friends, and Family for their generous support of this event and the Foundation.

Staff for JT3 Art Celebration
Judith Thompkins, Event Chair
Shireen Dickson, Event Coordinator
Bertha Cahn, Program Coordinator/Silent Auction/Sponsors
Rachel Mary Cox, roc-elle records, Music Director
Karla Nappi, Dianne McIntyre, Event Planning & Production
Dara Wishingrad, Event Design
Ali Swendsen, Catering Consultant/Mementos
Jessalyn Haefele, Sponsors/Silent Auction
Bill Toles, Maroon Motion Media, JT3 Reel compilation
Sherry Ponder, Sponsors

Additional event acknowledgements:
Donna M. Whyte, PhD; Jill Newman; Mariama Whyte; Dana Warner; Dominique
Phelps; Marin and Adrienne Bossard, NETTdesigns, LLP

To download a copy of the event program, please click here.

To view our press release for our event, please click here.

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