SPOTLIGHT July 2022: Geena Davis, Actor and Activist for Diversity in Cinema

Geena Davis seeks challenges in the roles she plays—and challenges others to view women’s roles differently. She’s used her fame to draw attention to disparities in representation, especially in family entertainment, and she’s passionate about recognizing unconscious biases and breaking boundaries around gender, race, body image, and abilities. By measuring evidence of what we see on screen, her institute provides evidence of how well media represents us and the inspiration to do better.

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SPOTLIGHT JUNE, 2022: Larysa Artiugina, Documentarian, Activist, and Cultural Champion

To most of the world, Russia’s massive, armed aggression against Ukraine in February 2022 came as a shock. For Ukrainian filmmaker and activist Larysa Artiugina, it may have seemed all but inevitable. Artiugina has been on the ground in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has been shelling Ukrainian citizens continuously since 2014, telling stories that depict the country’s plight and resistance—work she continues in a variety of roles. For her trouble, she has been placed on a Russian hit list.

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SPOTLIGHT May, 2022: Domee Shi, Animator, Director, Pixar VP of Creative

It has been an incredible decade for animator and director Domee Shi. Beginning as a story intern at Pixar in 2011, she was promoted in April of this year to Vice President of Creative for the company where she has spent her entire professional career. She also won an Academy Award and directed a feature film along the way.

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SPOTLIGHT April 2022: Maya Cade, Journalist and Curator

Maya Cade is an accomplished, articulate communicator whose invaluable resource and audience development work broaden our understanding of the Black experience and film culture. Her Black Film Archive not only reveals white representations of Blackness, but also how the Black community has seen itself in feature films, shorts, documentaries, and other media. We believe this greater understanding will result in more nuanced, informed films that can help hasten the cause of equality for all people.

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SPOTLIGHT March 2022: Elaine May, Entertainment Icon and 2022 Oscars Honoree

This month, Elaine May is getting an Oscar! One of Hollywood’s funniest and most talented ladies will, at long last, receive an Honorary Academy Award for her long history of great work in the film industry. In announcing the honor, Academy president David Rubin said, “Elaine May’s bold, uncompromising approach to filmmaking, as a writer, director and actress, reverberates as loudly as ever with movie lovers.” Honoring Elaine May’s work and career accomplishments will introduce a new generation to her particular sensibilities, wit, unique perspective and voice.

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SPOTLIGHT February, 2022: Nina Menkes, Independent Filmmaker, Feminist Activist, Educator

Nina Menkes is a trailblazer of American independent cinema and a crucial voice in our current reckoning with the ways film—both as an industry and an art form—treats women. More importantly, few living filmmakers have created work so virtually unprecedented in its stark originality. Her oeuvre is ripe for rediscovery.

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SPOTLIGHT January 2022: Jacqueline Stewart, Film Scholar, Archivist, and Curator

As a deeply committed film scholar whose work is resurrecting forgotten figures—particularly African American artists—in cinematic history, Jacqueline Stewart is changing face of American culture. Her contributions as an educator, curator, archivist, author, and popular presenter will ensure that diversity both of narrators and narratives will enrich our culture for years to come.

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SPOTLIGHT December 2021: Ari Wegner, Cinematographer, THE POWER OF THE DOG and ZOLA

While she won’t speculate on her own awards prospects, Ari Wegner recently told me how happy she is to see the way women are now being more welcomed in the field of cinematography. She hopes this will continue to increase as female DPs start to see the recognition that has eluded them for so long. She discusses both the art and science of filmmaking with such a degree of passion and poetry, that her love for the medium is contagious. She is a leader, a champion, and a gifted artist, giving the world not only beautiful images, but a sense of hope and fascination too.

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SPOTLIGHT November 2021: Lauren Ridloff, Actress, ASL Teacher and Cultural Heroine

For Lauren Ridloff, the chance to perform on stage and screen and taking on a new starring role in Marvel’s Eternals, is not just an avenue for creative expression, but also gives her the space to open doors for others in the deaf community while also teaching the hearing community how to foster a more inclusive experience for everyone.

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SPOTLIGHT October 2021: Kinuyo Tanaka, Japanese Golden Age Actor, Director, and Lumière Honoree

2021 was the year the film world rediscovered Japanese actor and director Kinuyo Tanaka. Tanaka acted in more than 200 films for some of the greatest directors Japan ever produced during a career that spanned from 1924 through 1976—just a year before her death. Her work as a director, however, is largely unknown, but thanks to the restoration of some of her films by The Japan Foundation, audiences are gaining access to her ground-breaking work.

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