P.J. Raval Wins Fellowship

P.J. Raval wins fellowship for documentary on murder of Filipino transgender woman by U.S. Marine in 2014.

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jonathan Capehart addresses audience at Giard benefit, urging commitment to engage on behalf of social and civil rights causes under threat.

PJ RavalAt the 7th Annual Robert Giard Foundation Fellowship Benefit Thursday, June 1, 2017, the foundation’s board announced this year’s fellowship winner: P.J. Raval, whose project, the “Untitled Jennifer Laude Documentary,” tells the story of how grassroots activists in the Philippines were spurred into action when a local transgender woman was found dead in a motel room with a 19-year-old U.S. marine as the leading suspect. As they demanded answers and a just trial, hidden histories of U.S. colonization came bubbling to the surface.

The $7,500 Robert Giard Fellowship is the largest such award given anywhere to a visual artist dealing with subject matter on sexuality and gender identity.

Mr. Raval said, “This award will be instrumental in telling Jennifer’s story and educating the world to the unique, progressive, and long history of LGBTQ culture in the Philippines. As a queer, Filipino American growing up in the United States, where my history and identity have remained largely invisible, I was aware of the devastating lack of knowledge about my homeland and its colonization by the U.S. Relegated to the footnotes and margins of the history books, the Philippines has been intentionally overlooked and vastly misunderstood. In making this film, I seek to not only uncover these truths, but also to further my own knowledge of my cultural heritage. I am truly thankful for the support of the Robert Giard Foundation in supporting me on this artistic and personal journey.”

The fellowship benefit took place at the Riverside Drive residence of architect Belmont Freeman where guests were delighted to meet this year’s Guest of Honor, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jonathan Capehart, who is a member of the Washington Post’s editorial board. Capehart writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog, and hosts the “Cape Up” podcast. He is also an MSNBC Contributor, where he has served as a substitute anchor and a guest on such shows as “Hardball.” He has also been a substitute host on “The Leonard Lopate Show” on WNYC New York Public Radio.

Speaking to those gathered on a sun-filled terrace overlooking the Hudson River, Capehart addressed those gathered about the necessity in this time of political polarization for individuals to fight the paralysis which takes hold in the face of multiple assaults against truth-telling and facts. Capehart urged his audience to commit their energies to that one cause dearest to each one.  As a journalist, Capehart admitted that he can only tell a piece of the story; artists and writers and filmmakers and others with creative powers must offer their viewpoints as well, allowing many engaged voices to speak the truth from various vantages. Capehart applauded the initiative of the Robert Giard Fellowship to help emerging and mid-career artists to contribute to art of social significance in the spheres of sexuality, gender, and LGBTQ experience.