HFPA funds pay for restoration, scholarships

During its annual installation luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel in July, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. donated $601,500 to film organizations, the largest amount ever ponied up by the org’s philanthropic wing in a single year. Six months after receiving the funds, how did the recipients spend it?

The Film Foundation was the largest single recipient with $150,000. The film-restoration organization, founded by Martin Scorsese and colleagues such as Woody Allen and Francis Ford Coppola, has long been a fave of the HFPA. It has donated more than $1 million to the restoration fund over the past eight years.

Fund executive director Margaret Bodde says the money will preserve a copy of David Lynch’s “Eraserhead,” to be maintained by the Museum of Modern Art; a copy of John Cassavetes’ “Faces,” at the UCLA film archive; and a selection of silent Italian films from 1910-1920.

Films are selected by the HFPA for preservation based on a master list of recommendations accumulated by the Film Foundation after talking to archives nationwide about what features most need restoration.

The California Institute of the Arts School of Film/Video received funds for two purposes: a $95,000 contribution to upgrade its digital film laboratory and a $25,000 scholarship.

CalArts is another favorite of the HFPA — over the past seven years the school has received at least $400,000 from the org, according to dean Steve Anker. This includes seed money and equipment for the HFPA Digital Laboratory. The lab consists of 22 rooms and makes resources such as Final Cut Pro and Avid available to the students for editing and production.

“They’ve had a major impact on our students,” Anker says, noting that the quality of technology in the lab is comparable to what students will encounter after graduation. “Students’ final output can be on video, DVD, Beta, VHS … and they can take those copies to exhibition or for their own use.”

The scholarship money is disbursed among about a half-dozen students who are selected on the basis of the strength of their work, which ranged from animation to directing to experimental film, Anker says.

The Sundance Institute received $50,000 from the HFPA, and spokesman Patrick Hubley says it was distributed among all the org’s programs.

In addition, HFPA money was made available to the scholarship funds of film schools, including the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television; California State University, Northridge’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts; and the USC School of Cinema-Television.

Other donation recipients in 2003 included the Writers Guild Foundation, to support its library; California State University Los Angeles, to support the U.S. Latino Film/Video Festival; and the New Roads School, to help purchase equipment for its video/film program.

Over the past nine years, the HFPA has made more than $3.5 million in charitable donations. Grant applications for 2004 are now available online.

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