Joshua Oppenheimer, the director of the acclaimed Indonesian genocide documentary "The Act of Killing," has been named a member of the 2014 class of MacArthur Fellows.
He joins five other arts figures in receiving the honor, which is commonly known as a "genius grant" and comes with a prize of $625,000.
In handing him the award, the MacArthur Foundation noted Oppenheimer's flair for "illuminating the social, psychological, and emotional dimensions of controversial subjects, such as state-sponsored violence, in works that challenge the modern aesthetic of contemporary documentary cinema in both intimacy of focus and visual construct."
Oppenheimer is part of a class that also includes Alison Bechdel, the acclaimed cartoonist who is known in movie circles for coining the so-called Bechdel Test for substantive female characters on screen.
Oppenheimer has spent more than a decade working on "Killing" -- his feature doc debut -- as well as a recently completed follow-up. Reacting to the MacArthur news, the filmmaker said in an email, "This is astounding news, and it comes at the best possible time. After a decade excavating the present-day legacy of the Indonesian genocide, the MacArthur fellowship will allow me to find the courage to dive in to something wholly new -- with the freedom, wildness, depth, and focus necessary for exploring uncharted waters." His next project is not yet known.