Last night, the MPAA and guests were treated to an evening with award-winning director, producer and Founder of the Canadian Film Center, Norman Jewison. Honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his lifetime contribution to the art of film, Jewison shared reflections on his career as well as his hopes for the future of the industry. Jewison is well-known for such acclaimed pictures as: The Cincinnati Kid (1965), The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming (1966), In the Heat of the Night (1967), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Fiddler on the Roof (1971), Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), And Justice for All (1979), Agnes of God (1985), Moonstruck (1987), Other People’s Money (1991), The Hurricane (1999) and The Statement (2003).
The evening was moderated by Alyssa Rosenberg, Features Editor of ThinkProgress.org. Gary Doer, Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, was also present to welcome his fellow countryman and laud the accomplishments of Jewison. “We are very inspired by all of his work; his films were nominated for over 46 Academy Awards®. Even for Canada, that is a lot of Oscar nominations.”
MPAA Chairman and CEO, Senator Chris Dodd, praised Jewison for his contribution to the industry, “For over five decades, Norman Jewison has captivated film and television audiences. From his early years at the CBC to his time at CBS on The Andy Williams Show and directing specials that featured the likes of Harry Belafonte, Danny Kaye, and Judy Garland, and of course his decades of work on the silver screen – Norman has a versatile and critically acclaimed body of work to his name. Norman Jewison tackled controversial issues of racial injustice and violence in America.”
Jewsion captivated those in attendance with career anecdotes and reflections. He recalled Bobby Kennedy telling him that In the Heat of the Night would be an important film – “timing is everything.” He shared a memory of narrating the film In the Heat of the Night to Ray Charles, who Jewison was hoping would agree to sing the film’s theme song. Charles’ response to a wealthy white man being slapped by a black man was that picture portrayed something truly revolutionary, remarking, “that’s maximum green, man.”
Jewison summarized his career philosophy and approach by saying the films he is most proud of are those “that truly seem to affect people. In other words, the letters they write me, references made, the invitations I get to international film festivals where I get to see there is great excitement about a specific film. I am interested in communicating. I love to communicate with people and I use my films to communicate.”
Senator Chris Dodd and Norman Jewison
Norman Jewison and Alyssa Rosenberg
Photo Credit: Joy Asico