‘Obit’ Editor Kristin Bye Wins Karen Schmeer Fellowship

Kristin Bye, editor of the documentary “Obit,” has won the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship.

The award, announced Wednesday, was created in memory of Karen Schmeer, the film editor of “The Fog of War,” “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control,” and “Bobby Fischer Against the World,” who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in 2010. Bye will receive the fellowship on March 13 at the SXSW Film Festival Awards Ceremony in Austin, Texas.

The yearlong fellowship is designed to foster development of an emerging documentary film editor by offering opportunities for creative growth and professional community building and includes mentorship, passes to film festivals and screening series, a $1000 cash award, and a collection of Schmeer’s films. Bye’s mentors will be Sabine Krayenbühl (“The Price of Everything,” “Letters from Baghdad”), Michael Levine (“Restrepo,” “The Cruise”), and Enat Sidi (“Jesus Camp,” “The Wolfpack”). It’s the only documentary editing fellowship in the United States.

“We’re delighted to announce Kristin Bye as our new Karen Schmeer Fellow,” said Garret Savage, board president.  “Kristin is a naturally talented editor who combines an artistic approach to storytelling with an uncommon sensitivity to the human condition. These talents are apparent in her first feature documentary, “Obit,” a charming, eloquent and poignant look at the process of writing obituaries for The New York Times. In addition to her technical and creative strengths, her humble, cheerful and energetic personality makes her a valuable collaborator.”

Bye broke into the business by working with designer-turned-filmmaker Hillman Curtis on many of his short films, and assistant editing on his David Byrne concert film, “Ride, Rise, Roar.” “Obit,” which debuted in 2016, focuses on the people who comprise the New York Times obituary department — one of the last surviving operations in the publishing world devoted to that task.

Vanessa Gould, the director of “Obit,” said, “Kristin has the eye of a mature artist, with a gift for form, composition, tempo, mood, color and music. She finds beautiful ways of layering these concepts throughout her work.”

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