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american film institute / afi

AFI is a national institute providing leadership in screen education and the recognition and celebration of excellence in the art of film, television and digital media.

AFI trains the next generation of filmmakers at its world-renowned Conservatory, maintains America's film heritage through the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and explores new digital technologies in entertainment and education through AFI's New Media Ventures. As the largest nonprofit exhibitor in the US, AFI ON SCREEN encompasses the annual AFI FEST presented by Audi: AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival and SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival, while offering year-round programming at ArcLight Hollywood and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. AFI AWARDS, the annual almanac for the 21st century, honors the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year, while AFI's 100 Years . . . series has ignited extraordinary public interest in classic American movies. And, during the past 32 years, AFI'S LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD has become the highest honor for a career in film.

In 1967, AFI was created to train the next generation of filmmakers and to preserve America's fast-disappearing film heritage. AFI immediately became a gathering place and point of focus and coordination for leading artists and educators who supported film and television as an art form.

Two years earlier, in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation in the White House Rose Garden creating the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), saying:

"We will create an American Film Institute that will bring together leading artists of the film industry, outstanding educators, and young men and women who wish to pursue this 20th century art form as their life's work."

In turn, the NEA funded a report by the Stanford Research Institute that defined the need for and functions of a new AFI. AFI was then established with initial funding from the NEA, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Ford Foundation.

Gregory Peck served as the first chair of AFI's original 22-member Board of Trustees, which included Sidney Poitier (vice chair), Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

George Stevens, Jr., was named AFI's first Director on June 6, 1967. His leadership characterized the first 12 years of AFI's evolution and growth. Succeeding Stevens in 1980 was Jean Picker Firstenberg, who continues as AFI Director and CEO today.

In 1973, AFI's Board of Trustees established the AFI Life Achievement Award. The recipient of the honor must be someone "whose talent has in a fundamental way advanced the film art." In 1993, the trustees extended the criteria to encompass individuals "with active careers and work of significance yet to be accomplished." Over the past 30 years, members of the entertainment community have recognized this award as the highest honor given for a career in film. Past honorees include Billy Wilder, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Capra, Barbara Stanwyck, Jack Nicholson, Sidney Poitier, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks and Robert De Niro.

In September 1989, President George Bush hosted "Back to the Rose Garden," AFI's 25th anniversary celebration in Washington, DC. The gala event was attended by hundreds of prominent Americans, including members of Congress and the diplomatic corps, leaders from the worlds of business and academia, and, of course, top figures from the entertainment and creative community, including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese and Charlton Heston. President Bush said at the time:

"For almost a quarter century, the American Film Institute has nurtured and celebrated the art of the moving image. In doing so, it has had an immense impact on the mind and soul of America."

American Film Institute
2021 N. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027-1657
323.467.4578 Fax

AFI Conservatory

AFI Membership
1.800.774.4AFI (4234)

2021 N. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027-1657
1.866.AFI FEST

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center
8633 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301.495.6777 Fax
Recorded Program Information: 301.495.6700