Sophia Loren and Haile Gerima are the honorees of Academy Museum’s opening gala
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures announced Tuesday that its gala leading up to the Los Angeles museum’s Sept. 30 opening will honor actress Sophia Loren and Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima.
The gala, to be held Sept. 25, will celebrate Loren as recipient of the museum’s inaugural annual Visionary Award, honoring an artist or scholar whose work has contributed to advances in cinema. Loren won the 1962 Academy Award for lead actress for “La Ciociara” — the first Oscar win for an actor in a foreign-language film — and at 86 starred in the Netflix drama “The Life Ahead.”
Gerima, a retired Howard University film professor, will be the recipient of the first annual Vantage Award, which honors an artist or scholar whose work has challenged or helped contextualize “dominant narratives around cinema.” His credits including writing and directing the acclaimed 1993 film “Sankofa,” about a Black woman who travels back in time to experience the atrocities of slavery.
“It is such an honor to be able to recognize both Haile Gerima and Sophia Loren for their impactful and inspirational artistry and to acknowledge the incredible work of our Campaign Committee,” museum Director Bill Kramer said in the announcement.
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Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay — an advisor to the museum’s 2022 exhibition “Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898-1971” — will co-chair the Sept. 25 gala along with producer Jason Blum and writer-director Ryan Murphy. Blum and Murphy are museum trustees, and DuVernay is an academy governor.
In January film historian, scholar and archivist Jacqueline Stewart joined the museum as chief artistic and programming officer, overseeing exhibitions, programming and education. The gala will raise money to realize her vision.
The $482-million Renzo Piano-designed museum has been in the making for decades, facing construction challenges and financial struggles. Tom Hanks, Annette Bening and Bob Iger — who last year stepped down as Walt Disney Co. chief executive — co-chaired the $388 million preopening building fundraising campaign, which the museum reached in November. Their efforts will be recognized at the gala as well.
The Academy Museum had originally planned to open on Dec. 14, 2020; that date was pushed to April 30, 2021, because of the pandemic, then again to Sept. 30. The museum said necessary public health safety measures will be taken at the fall event.
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