Academy Museum Reveals Inaugural Programming With Strong Emphasis on Diversity

Pat Saperstein
·4-min read

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has unveiled a robust series of programs in the run-up to its planned opening on Sept. 30, highlighting film artists including Spike Lee, Hayao Miyazaki and Satyajit Ray.

The museum held a virtual tour for media Wednesday to discuss the programming and museum’s progress, hosted by Academy governor Laura Dern.

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Throughout the presentation, Academy spokespersons emphasized the inclusion of a diverse array of filmmakers and artisans from the U.S. and around the world. The museum will not ignore the industry’s blindspots, the presentation emphasized.

“We will not shy away from problematic moments,” said Dern, “The exhibition also showcases less-proud moments in the history of the cinema.”

Bill Kramer, director and president of the Academy Museum, explained how those moments will be integrated throughout the museum’s exhibits and programming. “We didn’t want these conversations to sit in a separate gallery. We wanted to confront them and contextualize them,” he said, with exhibits incorporating topics such as Black face makeup, problematic casting, racism and sexism in animation and how Sacheen Littlefeather was treated after her Oscar appearance.

“This really is the time to address these questions,” said Jacqueline Stewart, chief artistic and programming officer, “It’s incredibly important that we are working with people who have contributed to filmmaking through so many different paths.”

Filmmakers and craftspeople including Ruth E. Carter, Guillermo del Toro and Rodrigo Prieto joined the virtual conference to describe the thinking behind the exhibitions. Exhibits include one on “Citizen Kane” featuring the Rosebud sled, one on “The Wizard of Oz” with the ruby slippers, and one on Almodovar’s films. Other exhibits will feature “Real Women Have Curves” and its East L.A. setting and look at the careers of Bruce Lee, Thelma Schoonmaker, Emmanuel Lubezki and Oscar Micheaux.

The long-in-the-works museum is located in the Saban Building at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles.

“The programming we are rolling out for our opening are dynamic, diverse and deeply grounded in the history and artistry of filmmaking,” said Stewart.

Pre-opening virtual programs

The Academy Museum will launch a series of virtual conversations and screenings on its website starting around the April 25 Oscar date. Starting on April 22, a “Breaking the Oscar Ceiling” conversation with Academy Museum trustee Diane von Furstenberg, moderated by Stewart, will include women who achieved Oscars milestones, including Sophia Loren, Whoopi Goldberg, Marlee Matlin and Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Screenings and conversations will include Dee Rees’ “Pariah,” “Y tu mamá también,” a talk with Spike Lee about his personal collection and a conversation with composer Hildur Guðnadóttir and Academy Museum Exhibitions Curator Jenny He about designing the museum’s Composer’s Inspiration gallery.

Education programs will include “How to Use Film as a Teaching Tool to Have Difficult Conversations,” “The Work of Black VFX Artists” and a Hayao Miyazaki Family Day.

Academy Museum
Academy Museum

Opening programs

When the museum opens, a series of screenings will be held in the museum’s two theaters, the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater and 288-seat Ted Mann Theater, which include capability for nitrate, 35mm, 70mm and digital formats.

The first North American exhibit and retrospective devoted to Miyazaki will present all the Japanese master’s features in both Japanese with English subtitles and with English dubbing. After the Miyazaki exhibit, the museum will present a comprehensive exhibit on Black Cinema.

The first year will include retrospectives on Indian writer/director Ray, Ethiopian-born writer/director/teacher Haile Gerima, Austrian exiles who helped shape Hollywood and actress Anna May Wong.

Other film series will include works devoted to preservation of historic films, Oscar-nominated and winning titles, and shorts.

Visitors to the museum will also be able to join themed guided tours throughout the week, giving insights on the core collection, exhibitions, art installations and architectural design. The tours are free with museum admission (the admission fee has not yet been announced), and they will also be available for families and for the low vision, blind, hard of hearing and deaf communities.

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