PAM CUT Announces 2024 Cinema Unbound Awards Honorees

The awards ceremony June 21 will honor Mickalene Thomas, Irene Taylor, Sterlin Harjo, and Peter Cho and Sun Young Park.

Cinema Unbound Awards 2024 Cinema Unbound Awards Honorees Mickalene Thomas and Sterlin Harjo (PAM CUT)

The Portland Art Museum’s PAM CUT has announced the honorees for its fifth annual Cinema Unbound Awards: two filmmakers, two chefs and a visual artist.

This year’s honorees are Mickalene Thomas, Sterlin Harjo, Irene Taylor, and Peter Cho and Sun Young Park. The ceremony will take place at the Portland Art Museum on June 21.

Cinema Unbound Awards honor “multitalented, world-class artistic innovators working at the intersection of art and cinema who are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible,” according to the museum.

Mickalene Thomas is a New York visual artist best known for her elaborate portraits of Black women composed of rhinestones, acrylic and enamel. A 1994 exhibit of Carrie Mae Weems’ work (specifically the artist’s Kitchen Table series) at the Portland Art Museum was “transformative” to Thomas as an artist, she told artnet in 2018.

“Not only to me as a young Black girl from Camden, New Jersey, standing in a museum in Portland, Oregon, but as a queer woman, as a young artist, seeing those works—they changed my life and allowed me to really consider being an artist. My journey began the moment I walked into that museum.”

Oscar-nominated documentarian Irene Taylor lives in Portland and her films, including Hear and Now and Leave No Trace: A Hidden History of the Boy Scouts, have been shown at the art museum and at the Tomorrow Theater throughout her career. Her latest is I AM: Celine Dion, which begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video on June 25.

In considering the Cinema Unbound Award, Taylor reflected on the support of the local film industry during her 22 years in Portland—from the NW Film Center (now PAM CUT) to the Portland International Film Festival to the Tomorrow Theater.

“To now receive the Cinema Unbound Award from this long lineage of idea-makers is a distinct honor,” Taylor says.

Sterlin Harjo is the co-creator and showrunner of Reservation Dogs on FX, a coming-of-age series following four indigenous teens on a reservation in Harjo’s home state of Oklahoma. Finally, the evening will honor Peter Cho and Sun Young Park, the husband-and-wife duo behind popular local Korean restaurants Han Oak, Toki and Jeju.

Past honorees include Guillermo del Toro, Steve McQueen, Shirin Neshat, Tessa Thompson, Gus Van Sant, Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, John Cameron Mitchell and Gregory Gourdet.

Comedian, actor and self-proclaimed national treasure Ron Funches, currently of Apple TV’s Loot with Maya Rudolph, will host the awards.

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