The BFCA has been involved with various charities since its inception.“The best tables (at our show) always come at a premium price where the extra money goes to the charities,” reports BFCA prexy Joey Berlin. Cause partners have included the Starlight Children’s Foundation and Heifer Intl., “which donates livestock to the poor.” Following the death of critic and a BFCA founding member Joel Siegel, the group established a humanitarian award in Siegel’s name and makes donations to stars’ favorite charities. In the four years since Siegel’s death, such stars as Don Cheadle, Richard Gere and Matt Damon have been honored for their work with, respectively, Sudan, Tibet and Water.org. This year’s recipient is Sean Penn, for his work in Haiti, who will accept the award from George Clooney via satellite from Haiti where the actor spends most of his time helping the country rebuild. “He’s a great example of what film stars can do with their celebrity to further a cause and help mankind,” Berlin says, “and the timing is particularly apropos as Jan. 12 marks the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake there.” In addition to these annual awards, the BFCA also funds ongoing programs and gives grants to students at universities around the country who are interested in electronic film criticism, as well as grants to film festivals nationwide — in both cases in association with local BFCA members.
Critics, academy in sync | Critics’ love-hate affair with each other | Org observes Haitian earthquake anniversary