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