|Founded||June 5, 1967|
|Purpose||To educate filmmakers and honor the heritage of the History of cinema in the United States|
The American Film Institute (AFI) is an American nonprofit film organization that educates filmmakers and honors the heritage of the motion picture arts in the United States. AFI is supported by private funding and public membership fees.
The institute is composed of leaders from the film, entertainment, business, and academic communities. The board of trustees is chaired by Kathleen Kennedy and the board of directors chaired by Robert A. Daly guide the organization, which is led by President and CEO, film historian Bob Gazzale. Prior leaders were founding director George Stevens Jr. (from the organization's inception in 1967 until 1980) and Jean Picker Firstenberg (from 1980 to 2007).
The American Film Institute was founded by a 1965 presidential mandate announced in the Rose Garden of the White House by Lyndon B. Johnson—to establish a national arts organization to preserve the legacy of American film heritage, educate the next generation of filmmakers, and honor the artists and their work. Two years later, in 1967, AFI was established, supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Ford Foundation.
The original 22-member Board of Trustees included actor Gregory Peck as chairman and actor Sidney Poitier as vice-chairman, as well as director Francis Ford Coppola, film historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., lobbyist Jack Valenti, and other representatives from the arts and academia.
The institute established a training program for filmmakers known then as the Center for Advanced Film Studies. Also created in the early years were a repertory film exhibition program at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the AFI Catalog of Feature Films — a scholarly source for American film history. The institute moved to its current eight-acre Hollywood campus in 1981.The film training program grew into the AFI Conservatory, an accredited graduate school.
AFI moved its presentation of first-run and auteur films from the Kennedy Center to the historic AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, which hosts the AFI DOCS film festival, making AFI the largest nonprofit film exhibitor in the world. AFI educates audiences and recognizes artistic excellence through its awards programs and 10 Top 10 Lists.
AFI educational and cultural programs include:
In 1969, the institute established the AFI Conservatory for Advanced Film Studies at Greystone, the Doheny Mansion in Beverly Hills, California. The first class included filmmakers Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel, and Paul Schrader.That program grew into the AFI Conservatory, an accredited graduate film school located in the hills above Hollywood, California, providing training in six filmmaking disciplines: cinematography, directing, editing, producing, production design, and screenwriting. Mirroring a professional production environment, Fellows collaborate to make more films than any other graduate level program. Admission to AFI Conservatory is highly selective, with a maximum of 140 graduates per year.
In 2013, Emmy and Oscar-winning director, producer, and screenwriter James L. Brooks ( As Good as It Gets , Broadcast News , Terms of Endearment ) joined as the artistic director of the AFI Conservatory where he provides leadership for the film program.Brooks' artistic role at the AFI Conservatory has a rich legacy that includes Daniel Petrie, Jr., Robert Wise, and Frank Pierson. Award-winning director Bob Mandel served as dean of the AFI Conservatory for nine years. Jan Schuette took over as dean in 2014 and served until 2017. Film producer Richard Gladstein was dean from 2017 until 2019, when Susan Ruskin was appointed.
AFI Conservatory's alumni have careers in film, television and on the web. They have been recognized with all of the major industry awards—Academy Award, Emmy Award, guild awards, and the Tony Award.
Among the alumni of AFI are Andrea Arnold ( Red Road , Fish Tank ), Darren Aronofsky ( Requiem for a Dream , Black Swan ), Carl Colpaert ( Gas Food Lodging , Hurlyburly , Swimming with Sharks ), Doug Ellin ( Entourage ), Todd Field ( In the Bedroom , Little Children ), Jack Fisk ( Badlands , Days of Heaven , There Will Be Blood ), Carl Franklin ( One False Move , Devil in a Blue Dress , House of Cards ), Patty Jenkins ( Monster , Wonder Woman ), Janusz Kamiński ( Lincoln , Schindler's List , Saving Private Ryan ), Matthew Libatique ( Noah , Black Swan), David Lynch ( Mulholland Drive , Blue Velvet ), Terrence Malick ( Days of Heaven , The Thin Red Line , The Tree of Life ), Melina Matsoukas (Queen and Slim), Rachel Morrison (Black Panther, Fruitvale Station), Victor Nuñez, ( Ruby in Paradise , Ulee's Gold ), Wally Pfister ( Memento , The Dark Knight , Inception ), Robert Richardson ( Platoon ), Ari Aster ( Hereditary , Midsommar ), and many others.
The AFI Catalog, started in 1968, is a web-based filmographic database. A research tool for film historians, the catalog consists of entries on more than 60,000 feature films and 17,000 short films produced from 1893 to 2011, as well as AFI Awards Outstanding Movies of the Year from 2000 through 2010. Early print copies of this catalog may also be found at local libraries.
Created in 2000, the AFI Awards honor the ten outstanding films ("Movies of the Year") and ten outstanding television programs ("TV Programs of the Year").The awards are a non-competitive acknowledgment of excellence.
The awards are announced in December, and a private luncheon for award honorees takes place the following January.
The AFI 100 Years... series, which ran from 1998 to 2008 and created jury-selected lists of America's best movies in categories such as Musicals, Laughs and Thrills, prompted new generations to experience classic American films. The juries consisted of over 1,500 artists, scholars, critics, and historians. Citizen Kane was voted the greatest American film twice.
AFI operates two film festivals: AFI Fest in Los Angeles, and AFI Docs (formally known as Silverdocs) in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
AFI Fest is the American Film Institute's annual celebration of artistic excellence. It is a showcase for the best festival films of the year and an opportunity for master filmmakers and emerging artists to come together with audiences in the movie capital of the world. It is the only festival of its stature that is free to the public. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes AFI Fest as a qualifying festival for the Short Films category for the annual Academy Awards.
The festival has paid tribute to numerous influential filmmakers and artists over the years, including Agnès Varda, Pedro Almodóvar and David Lynch as guest artistic directors, and has screened scores of films that have produced Oscar nominations and wins.
Held annually in June, AFI Docs (formerly Silverdocs) is a documentary festival in Washington, D.C. The festival attracts over 27,000 documentary enthusiasts.
The AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center is a moving image exhibition, education and cultural center located in Silver Spring, Maryland. Anchored by the restoration of noted architect John Eberson's historic 1938 Silver Theatre, it features 32,000 square feet of new construction housing two stadium theatres, office and meeting space, and reception and exhibit areas.
The AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center presents film and video programming, augmented by filmmaker interviews, panels, discussions, and musical performances.
The Directing Workshop for Women is a training program committed to educating and mentoring participants in an effort to increase the number of women working professionally in screen directing. In this tuition-free program, each participant is required to complete a short film by the end of the year-long program.
Alumnae of the program include Maya Angelou, Anne Bancroft, Dyan Cannon, Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Getzinger, Lesli Linka Glatter, Lily Tomlin, Susan Oliver and Nancy Malone.
AFI released a set of hour-long programs reviewing the career of acclaimed directors. The Directors Series content was copyrighted in 1997 by Media Entertainment Inc and The American Film Institute, and the VHS and DVDs were released between 1999 and 2001 on Winstar TV and Video.
Directors featured included:
AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center or commonly known as AFI Silver is a three-screen movie theater complex in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, north of Washington, D.C. Its main auditorium hosts the DC Metro area's third-largest commercial movie theater screen, and the second-largest commercial movie theater screen outside of the Smithsonian Institution. Run by the American Film Institute, it plays modern art-house and independent works alongside classic films.
Robert von Dassanowsky FRHistS, FRSA is an Austrian-American academic, writer, film and cultural historian, and producer. He is usually known as Robert Dassanowsky.
The AFI Conservatory is a private not-for-profit graduate film school in the Hollywood Hills district of Los Angeles. Students learn from the masters in a collaborative, hands-on production environment with an emphasis on storytelling. The Conservatory is a program of the American Film Institute founded in 1969.
The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, known as the AACTA Awards, are presented annually by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). The awards recognise excellence in the film and television industry, both locally and internationally, including the producers, directors, actors, writers, and cinematographers. It is the most prestigious awards ceremony for the Australian film and television industry. They are generally considered to be the Australian counterpart of the Academy Awards for the U.S. and the BAFTA Awards for the U.K.
Jean Picker Firstenberg is an American who served as the President and CEO of the American Film Institute from 1980 through 2007. She was the Institute's second CEO and the only female to have held that title. At the time of her appointment, she was an executive at the Markle Foundation.
Andrea Arnold, OBE is an English filmmaker and former actor. She won an Academy Award for her short film Wasp in 2005. Her feature films include Red Road (2006), Fish Tank (2009), and American Honey (2016), all of which have won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Arnold has also directed four episodes of the Amazon Prime Video series Transparent, as well as all seven episodes of the second season of the HBO series Big Little Lies. Her documentary Cow premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and played at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival.
The Documentary Film Institute, is an independent organization within San Francisco State University that is dedicated to support non-fiction cinema by promoting documentary films and filmmakers and producing films on socially and culturally important topics which deserve wider recognition. The current director is Soumyaa Behrens. It is situated within the College of Liberal & Creative Arts at San Francisco State University, with access to a broad cross-section of educational institutions in San Francisco and the Bay Area. It is a resource for undergraduate and graduate students studying film in the area as well as faculty interested in the artistic and politic dimensions of documentary cinema.
Thomas Richmond was an American cinematographer who worked in the film industry since the mid-1980s. His first major feature film as cinematographer was Stand and Deliver (1988), and by the time he shot for A Midnight Clear (1992), he had settled into working with different directors with ease. Richmond described his experience, "All my films look different because they're not my visions; they're my reflections of the directors' visions." In 1998, he said he was most proud of his work on Little Odessa (1994), for which he was nominated an Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography. For Right at Your Door (2006), he won the Excellence in Cinematography Award (Dramatic) at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Sundance Institute is a non-profit organization founded by Robert Redford committed to the growth of independent artists. The institute is driven by its programs that discover and support independent filmmakers, theatre artists and composers from all over the world. At the core of the programs is the goal to introduce audiences to the artists' new work, aided by the institute's labs, granting and mentorship programs that take place throughout the year in the United States and internationally.
The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the world's largest Indigenous film and media arts festival, held annually in Toronto in the month of October. The festival focuses on the film, video, radio, and new media work of Indigenous, Aboriginal and First Peoples from around the world. The festival includes screenings, parties, panel discussions, and cultural events.
George Cooper Stevens Jr. is an American writer, playwright, director, and producer. He is the founder of the American Film Institute, creator of the AFI Life Achievement Award, and co-creator of the Kennedy Center Honors. He has also served as Co-Chairman of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
The Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF), presented by Dallas Film, is an annual film festival that takes place in Dallas, Texas.
Harutyun Khachatryan is an Armenian film director, script writer, director of photography, film producer, General director of the Golden Apricot Yerevan International Film Festival, Meritorious Artist of the Republic of Armenia and voting Member of European Film Academy since 2006.
Garin K. Hovannisian is an Armenian American writer, filmmaker, and producer. He is the director of the award-winning films 1915 (2015), I Am Not Alone (2019), and Truth to Power (2020), and the author of the book Family of Shadows: A century of murder, memory, and the Armenian American dream. He is also the founder of the arts foundation Creative Armenia.
Malika Zouhali-Worrall is a British-Moroccan film director and editor.
Alonso Mayo is a Peruvian film director and screenwriter best known for his independent film The Story of Luke (2012). He has won a Student Academy Award.
Julia Bell Reichert was an American Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, activist, and feminist. She was a co-founder of New Day Films. Reichert's filmmaking career spans over 50 years as a director and producer of documentaries.
Polly Morgan is a British cinematographer who has worked on the studio feature films Lucy in the Sky (2019), A Quiet Place Part II (2020), Where the Crawdads Sing (2022), and The Woman King (2022). She was also the cinematographer for multiple episodes of the TV series Legion (2017–2019). Morgan is accredited by the British Society of Cinematographers (BSC) and the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC). To date, she is the only woman to be a member of both, and she is the youngest member of ASC.
Sarita Khurana is a film director, producer, and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. Khurana's films explore South Asian stories from female perspectives. Migration, memory, culture, gender, and sexuality are common themes throughout her work. Khurana was the first Desi woman to win the Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award at Tribeca Film Festival with her collaborator, Smriti Mundhra.
And the AFI was born June 5, 1967 -- exactly 20 years ago.