Recipients include UCLA, Ghetto Film School

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. hosted its annual luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Thursday, drawing Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank, Jamie Foxx, Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony to announce a total of $1.2 million in grants.

“It’s rewarding to help these students that would otherwise have difficulties furthering their education. I’m looking forward to hand out the money,” said new HFPA president Jorge Camara.

Since the inception of the luncheon 13 years ago, more than $7.7 million in has been awarded in grants.

Grants were distributed to 28 film schools across the country, including UCLA, CalArts, Columbia and Cal State Northridge, as well as to nonprofit, professional training and mentoring programs in inner cities, such as the Ghetto Film School and the National Assn. of Latino Independent Producers.

“The idea of giving grants and helping Latino programs shows that their art is alive,” said Lopez, who announced grants to inner-city mentoring programs.

The HFPA also donated $50,000 to Film Aid Intl. to pursue their efforts in promoting diversity in films. Whitaker, who accepted the grant on behalf of the org, pointed out that in 2006, only 8% of all U.S. films with theatrical distribution were made by filmmakers of color. “In the end, our project is to make a richer more democratic body of work,” he said, “to allow us to bond even more in the stories that we tell.”

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