AMPAS Celebrates Dissent with New Doc Series
by Brian Brooks
Dissent has become a loaded term in the United States recently, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will draw on a lost American tradition of questioning the status quo in a program beginning tomorrow night. The inaugural John Huston Lecture on Documentary Film, named in honor of the late Oscar-winning writer-director, will present its first program, titled, “Documentaries of Dissent” in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
Participants slated for the program include Peter Davis, maker of the 1974 Academy Award-winning doc “Hearts and Minds” and Penelope Spheeris, maker of the 1981 film, “The Decline of Western Civilization.” Also slated is “The Times of Harvey Milk” producer-director Rob Epstein, who won Oscars for the doc profiling the slain openly gay San Francisco politician as well as the 1989 film, “Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt.” Rounding out the participants is Barbara Trent, who took the 1992 best documentary feature prize for “The Panama Deception.”
Panelists will discuss the challenges faced when making a documentary film as well as how the genre has evolved. Audience participants will also be encouraged to engage the discussion which will use film clips to fuel the conversation. The initial event will examine “controversial” films from the early 1940s to 1990s. A second installment scheduled for next year will focus on theatrical documentaries released in 2004 that helped shape the political and social discourse. The Huston Lecture is the sixth of the Academy’s annually scheduled lectures, joining the Marvin Browsky Lecture on Screenwriting, the George Pal Lecture on Fantasy in Film, the Jack Oakie Lecture on comedy in Film, the Marc Davis Lecture on Animation and the George Stevens Lecture on Directing.
[For more information, please visit the AMPAS website at http://www.oscars.org. ]