“Power in the Message of Film” – Joanne Hock, ASC Creative Renewal Fellowship Recipient

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2021 ASC Creative Renewal Fellowship recipient Joanne Hock, writer, director, cinematographer.
2021 ASC Creative Renewal Fellowship recipient Joanne Hock, writer, director, cinematographer. Photo by Nancy Pierce.
By Michael Solender

Charlotte filmmaker Joanne Hock was destined to become a filmmaker and storyteller.

Her father – the son of a movie theater owner – spent countless days after school at the cinema. He shared his love of the artform with her and she recognized film as a medium that married the artistic elements of music, words and visual arts to make emotional connections.

Hock’s early career saw her in radio and television promotions, marketing and production. Her burgeoning skillset ultimately led her to form her own firm, Joanne Hock Films, in 2017. Here, Hock writes, directs and creates motion picture stories, including narrative features and documentaries.

“I’ve never spent a day [where it felt like] work when I’m behind the camera,” Hock said. “It’s such a wonderful place to be.”

Her talents have not gone unrecognized. Hock’s shelves groan under the weight of multiple Emmy Awards, recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a Nichols Fellowship Finalist, official selection in numerous film festivals, the Award of Merit for Writing at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood, and many others.

“A good story is a good story, regardless of the platform,” said Hock, whose passion projects often address social issues such as racism, sexism, classism, and religious intolerance.

“Faith is such an important component in my life. Many have not had the foundation I’ve been so fortunate to experience with loving parents, the church that embraced me and caring neighbors. As a creative person, I have a gift to share with my talents to serve others. I can impact so many people by telling good, enlightening stories and use the tools I’ve developed in ways to make positive connections.”

One of Hock’s most recognized projects is “When We Last Spoke,” a narrative film set in 1966 that she wrote and directed. The film stars Academy Award winning actress Cloris Leachman and Golden Globe winner Melissa Gilbert. It won the Audience Choice Award at the Austin Film Festival and the Heartland Film Festival Award. The film can be found on Amazon Prime and the Hallmark Drama Channel.

“I consider myself a purpose-driven storyteller and strive to be a change agent in the visual medium of motion picture production,” said Hock.

To that end, she’s thrilled to be a recipient of the 2021 ASC Creative Renewal Fellowship and is using the funds to support a film project that explores the remarkable true story of Charlene Perlmutter and her life in Nazi occupied Poland during the early years of WWII. In 1939 the Germans burned Perlmutter’s synagogue and forced her to live in the Jewish Ghetto. Near starvation, Perlmutter escaped and lived alone in the woods for two years. Fifty years later, she became a “living witness” to the horrors of the Holocaust.

Perlmutter’s story is documented in the book, “Child of the Forest,” by Jack Grossman. Hock is working to bring the story to life through film and has already visited and met with staff at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C, where Perlmutter’s testimony is kept. She also plans to travel to Horchow, Poland – where Perlmutter fled the Nazis – to explore the woods where Perlmutter hid and survived.

“It is my hope that we can inform and impact others with Charlene’s legacy of hope,” said Hock. “There is power in the message of film.”