Filmmakers David Lynch and Lina Wertmuller and actor Wes Studi received honorary Oscars Sunday from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, while the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award went to actress/activist Geena Davis to honor her efforts on behalf of gender equality.
The honors were presented during the Academy’s 11th annual Governors Awards at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in the Hollywood & Highland Center.
“These Governors Awards given by the Academy each year recognize individuals who have devoted themselves to a lifetime of artistic accomplishment and brought outstanding contributions to our industry, and beyond,” said Academy President John Bailey. “It is with great pleasure that we announce this year’s recipients.”
Honorary Award recipients are honored for “extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy,” while the Hersholt award is given “to an individual in the motion picture arts and sciences whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.”
Davis, 63, is being recognized for being “a passionate advocate for gender equality in media,” according to an Academy statement.
She is the founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a nonprofit dedicated to educating and influencing film and television content creators to eliminate gender bias and stereotypes and create a wide variety of female characters in entertainment and media aimed at children.
Davis was appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in Information and Communication Technologies for the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union in 2012, and has served as chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women. In 2015, she launched the Bentonville Film Festival to support women and diversity in the entertainment industry.
Davis won an Oscar for her supporting performance in the 1988 film “The Accidental Tourist,” and scored a nomination for “Thelma & Louise.” Her other acting credits include “The Fly,” “Beetlejuice,” “A League of Their Own” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight.”
Lynch, a 73-year-old native of Missoula, Montana, wrote, produced and directed his first full-length feature film, “Eraserhead,” in 1977. He also led the editing, scoring and sound design on the film, which he followed with “The Elephant Man” in 1980. That film received eight Oscar nominations, including directing and adapted screenplay for Lynch himself.
He earned two more directing nominations — for “Blue Velvet” in 1986 and “Mulholland Drive” in 2001 — and also helmed “Dune” (1984), “Wild at Heart” (1990), “Lost Highway” (1997), “The Straight Story” (1999) and “Inland Empire” (2006).
Studi, a 71-year-old Cherokee-American actor, is known for portraying strong Native American characters in such films as “Dances with Wolves,” “The Last of the Mohicans” and “Geronimo: An American Legend.” Born and raised in Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, he became deeply involved with Native American politics and activism after a tour of military service in Vietnam.
Studi began his acting career with the American Indian Theater Company, and his first film role was in the independent feature “Powwow Highway” in 1989. His other acting credits include “Heat,” “The New World” and “Avatar.”
In 1976, Wertmuller became the first woman to receive an Academy Award nomination for directing for “Seven Beauties,” for which she also got an original screenplay nod.
Known for focusing on political and social issues, the 91-year-old Italian auteur has written and directed such films as “The Basilisks” (1963), “The Seduction of Mimi” (1972), “Love and Anarchy” (1973) and “Swept Away” (1974).
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