The long-delayed Academy Museum of Motion Pictures looks like it is finally ready for its close-up.
Ava DuVernay, Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum will be spearheading plans for the gala opening on September 25, 2021 as part of a weeklong program of celebrations leading to its official unveiling for the public September 30. Murphy and Blum are both Museum Trustees, while DuVernay is an Academy governor who has also been lending her consultation on the upcoming 2022 exhibition Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898-1971.
The museum has also announced the establishment of two new annual awards that will be presented for the first time at the gala. Film legend Sophia Loren will receive the inaugural Visionary Award, honoring an artist or scholar whose extensive body of work has advanced the art of cinema. Ethiopian independent filmmaker, professor and author Haile Gerima will receive the Vantage Award, honoring an artist or scholar who has helped to contextualize and challenge dominant narratives around cinema. Both awards are presented by Rolex, the official watch partner and founding supporting of the Academy Museum that is also serving as presenting partner of the opening gala, with leadership support from J.P. Morgan.
Bob Iger, Annette Bening and Tom Hanks will also be recognized for their leadership in bringing to completion the $388 million campaign for the decades-in-the-making dream of an Academy-sponsored museum in the heart of the motion picture industry.
Bill Kramer, director and president of the Academy Museum, said: “The Academy Museum is committed to celebrating and championing the work of film artists, scholars and professionals—through our exhibitions, screenings, programs, collection and now, through our annual gala. 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. We are deeply grateful to our gala co-chairs and our sponsors for their extraordinary leadership and support of this inaugural event.”
The 86-year-old Loren, currently seen in her screen return in The Life Ahead directed by son Edoardo Ponti, is no stranger to awards, having received the Best Actress Oscar for 1961’s Two Women, as well as an Honorary Oscar presented to her in 1991. Her other awards include five Golden Globes, a Golden Lion and a Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival, Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, the Honorary Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement from the Berlin Film Festival, a BAFTA Award, a Grammy, 10 David di Donatello Awards and three Silver Ribbon Awards. In 1999, the American Film Institute included Loren on its list of the 25 biggest stars in cinema history.
Gerima’s filmography includes Hour Glass (1972), Child of Resistance (1972), Bush Mama (1975), the award-winning Harvest: 3000 Years (1975), Wilmington 10-USA 10,000 (1978), Ashes and Embers (1982), After Winter: Sterling Brown (1985), Sankofa (1993)—which won numerous international awards and accolades, Imperfect Journey (1994), Through the Door of No Return (1997), Adwa: An African Victory (1999), Teza (2008), winner of international awards including Best Screenplay and Jury Award at the Venice Film Festival, and Footprints of Pan Africanism (2017). He just completed a five-part documentary, Black Lions, Roman Wolves, and is producing The Maroons of the United States documentary and Yatoot Lij, a drama set in Ethiopia, as well as a forthcoming book on the making of Sankofa.
Overseeing event production and design for the museum’s opening gala are gala creative director Lisa Love and artistic director Raul Àvila. Guests will be seated for a special dinner prepared by Wolfgang Puck Catering. Proceeds from the event will support the Academy Museum’s access, education and programming initiatives. Additional details about the gala will be announced in the coming months.
The Academy Museum, which most recently has weathered it latest opening date changes due to the coronavirus pandemic, assures everyone that, “if needed in September, all required public health and safety measures will be in place, in accordance with CDC and L.A. County Department of Public Health guidelines.”