02/08/2013 13:12 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
Last night public policy experts and mental health professionals gathered at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association for an educational presentation and screening of Silver Linings Playbook, hosted by the MPAA and The Weinstein Company. They were joined by MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd, the film’s director/screenwriter David O. Russell, lead actor Bradley Cooper and former Member of the House of Representatives and mental health advocate Patrick Kennedy.
The remarks focused on creating awareness for mental health issues and the role that film and popular culture play in elevating these topics on a national scale. The film Silver Linings Playbook helps to promote awareness by taking an important look at mental illness, and how it affects so many lives – both directly and indirectly. David O. Russell explained how he was drawn to the story of a family struggling to cope with the effects of mental illness because of his own son’s struggles with the disease.
Senator Dodd and Patrick Kennedy discussed their roles in passing laws to help those suffering from mental illness have more opportunities to receive treatment, through the Mental Health Parity Act and the Combating Autism Act.
Dodd: “It takes popular culture, through films like Silver Linings Playbook, to show us not just the struggles but also the joy that can be found in life by those living with these illnesses, and to change the stigma around them.”
Kennedy spoke about the need for films like this in today’s society: “The timing of this is so crucial. The power of this film is so valuable right now.”
Cooper discussed screening the film with soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center the week before and talked about the response the film received from the military and veterans communities.
Russell is best known as the director of many critically acclaimed films, including Three Kings and more recently, The Fighter. Bradley Cooper, most popularly known for his work in The Hangover series, has also appeared in Wedding Crashers, The A-Team and Limitless.
from left to right: David O. Russell,Patrick Kennedy,Bradley Cooper, NCTA President and CEO Michael Powell, MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd
Photo credit: Joy Asico
02/07/2013 13:25 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
Three, shiny gold Oscar® statues made their way into the MPAA last night for an evening honoring a giant in the film industry, George Stevens, Jr. Stevens recently received an Honorary Oscar® for his over 50 years of work as a writer, director, producer, and founder of the American Film Institute. Stevens is the son of George Stevens, who won the Academy Award for Best Director for both A Place in the Sun (1951) and Giant (1956). All three Oscar awards were on hand for an evening that featured Stevens discussing his career with current AFI President and CEO Bob Gazelle.
Stevens began his career working with his father on the classic motion pictures Shane, Giant, and The Diary of Anne Frank. In 1962, he was named the head of the U.S. Information Agency’s motion picture division by Edward R. Murrow and more recently, has served as President Obama’s co-chairman of the President Committee on the Arts and Humanities. His most significant contribution to the film industry, however, is arguably his role as the founding director of the American Film Institute, an organization established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967 to “enrich and nature the art of film in America.” Stevens spoke of the organization’s beginnings last night:
“I never hesitated, never questioned whether this was a good idea or possible. (It had) that energy. Ask not, do it. It was a wonderful adventure, and a tremendous collaboration.”
Gazelle described AFI’s founding in the Rose Garden as an “idyllic moment when the President said we will invest in the arts.” MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd was also in attendance, and described Stevens as a uniquely humble individual who could bridge the gap between Hollywood and Washington. “He was the Democratic Party’s Ronald Reagan,” said Senator Dodd.
Bob Gazelle (left), George Stevens (middle), Senator Chris Dodd (right)
photo credit: Joy Asico