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Best of the Best: FSU film professor wins Guggenheim Fellowship

Antonio Méndez Esparza
Florida State University’s Antonio Méndez Esparza in the College of Motion Picture Arts has been awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. (Photo: La Semaine de la Critique)

Florida State University’s Antonio Méndez Esparza, an acclaimed film director who teaches in the College of Motion Picture Arts, has been awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship.

Esparza, an assistant teaching professor at FSU’s film school, is one of 173 Guggenheim Fellows selected for the class of 2017. They were among a group of about 3,000 artists and scholars who participated in the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation’s 93rd competition.

“The College of Motion Picture Arts is proud of Antonio and excited that his vision has been recognized through a Guggenheim Fellowship,” said Reb Braddock, interim dean of the College of Motion Picture Arts. “Antonio is an incredible artist whose dedication to the cinematic exploration of the human condition is an inspiration to his students and colleagues at the film school.”

Esparza, who won the fellowship in the Film-Video category of Creative Arts, is a director and screenwriter whose film “Aquí y Allá” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and was awarded the Grand Prix. The film traveled to more than 60 film festivals around the world, including the New York Festival, Karlovy Vary, Moscow, Thessaloniki, San Sebastian, Tokyo, AFI Film Festival, Busan and Mumbai, and earned great reviews and awards.

Esparza co-founded Aquí y Allí Films, a feature film production company with a special interest in nurturing the work of young filmmakers. Born in Madrid, Esparza earned a law degree before moving to the United States, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University and began developing his filmmaking career. He teaches undergraduate and graduate directing classes in the College of Motion Picture Arts.

The Guggenheim Fellowship program recognizes individuals based on their achievements and exceptional promise. This year’s class includes leaders in 49 scholarly and artistic fields from 64 academic institutions; 27 states and the District of Columbia; and three Canadian provinces.

Edward Hirsch, president of the Guggenheim Foundation, said it was an honor to support the fellows so they can continue their work.

“These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best,” Hirsch said. “Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group.”

Since its establishment 92 years ago, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has presented $350 million in fellowships to more than 18,000 individuals.

For more information on the fellows and their projects, visit the foundation’s website at