Gala Dinner Honored Five Decades of Partnership Between
AFI and the Library of Congress
Special Thanks to Presenting Underwriter AT&T
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — November 2, 2017, Los Angeles, CA — On Wednesday, November 1, the American Film Institute (AFI) celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Gala dinner in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC — commemorating the Institute’s roots in the nation’s capital, and 50 years of partnership with the Library of Congress (LOC). The evening’s program included remarks from Morgan Freeman (2011 AFI Life Achievement Award recipient); Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden; AFI Founding Director George Stevens, Jr; and AFI President & CEO Bob Gazzale. The event also served to highlight the AFI Collection at the Library of Congress, an archive of more than 37,000 motion pictures safely preserved by AFI and the LOC.
“Preserving America’s motion picture legacy is a vital component of our great nation’s collective memory,” said George Stevens, Jr. “Without two generations of artists, philanthropists, members of Congress, archivists, as well as foundations, studios and four Librarians of Congress, our mission to retain and restore this great American art form would not have been possible.”
“When AFI was born 50 years ago — from seeds planted in the White House Rose Garden — the dream was to ensure that movies, in all their forms, take their rightful place among the other arts,” said Morgan Freeman. “And 50 years later we can say, ‘Mission accomplished!'”
“AFI did not do this alone. For in that regard, the heroes in this room are many,” said Bob Gazzale of the AFI Collection. “There has been no greater partner — no more dedicated an institution to the preservation of our nation’s heritage — than the Library of Congress.”
The 50th Anniversary celebration brought together some two dozen Congressional leaders — including Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) — and filmmakers Bradley Cooper, Christopher Nolan, Lesli Linka Glatter, Lori McCreary, Jon Avnet and Grace Guggenheim. Also in attendance were Sir Howard Stringer, the Chairman of the AFI Board of Trustees; Jean Picker Firstenberg, AFI President Emerita; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan; NBC’s Andrea Mitchell; NPR’s Cokie Roberts; and philanthropist Buffy Cafritz.
With AT&T as Presenting Underwriter, the anniversary featured a special presentation on the enduring power of the motion picture, including great works now stored in the AFI Collection at the Library of Congress — with the evening’s highlights including RICHARD III (1912), the oldest surviving American feature film; WITHIN OUR GATES (1920), a pioneering African-American short by Oscar Micheaux; MABEL’S BLUNDER (1914), an early female-directed short by Mabel Normand and Mack Sennett; Walt Disney’s PUSS IN BOOTS (1922); as well as revered classics, from CITIZEN KANE (1941) to IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) and many more. Read more about the AFI Collection here.
About the American Film Institute
Celebrating its golden milestone, the American Film Institute began its mission on June 5, 1967 — to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. Initiated by remarks from Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House Rose Garden upon signing the legislation to create the National Endowment for the Arts, AFI is America’s promise to educate today’s audiences and tomorrow’s artists. The Institute was anchored by a Board of Trustees that included Gregory Peck as Chairman, Sidney Poitier as Vice Chairman, Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Jack Valenti.
George Stevens, Jr., was AFI’s Founding Director, and he spearheaded programs that continue to this day. The AFI Catalog of Feature Films documents every film produced in the United States between 1893-1993, and is available online to the public. The AFI Center for Advanced Film Studies, now called the AFI Conservatory, opened in 1969 with an inaugural class that included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel and Paul Schrader. David Lynch joined in the second year, and accomplished alumni since then include Patty Jenkins, director of WONDER WOMAN (2017), Darren Aronofsky, Julie Dash, Janusz Kamiński and Robert Richardson. The AFI Directing Workshop for Women was launched in 1974 and continues to provide opportunities for outstanding women directors. The AFI Life Achievement Award was established in 1973, with the inaugural award going to John Ford, and has honored America’s finest film artists for 45 years.
AFI has continued to create new programs under the leadership of Jean Picker Firstenberg (1980-2007) and Bob Gazzale (2007-present). Those include AFI AWARDS, honoring the most outstanding movies and TV series of the year; the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists which have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers; and year-round and special event exhibition through AFI FEST presented by Audi, AFI DOCS and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. For more information about AFI, visit AFI.com or connect with AFI at twitter.com/AmericanFilm, facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute and youtube.com/AFI.
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