Nicole Kidman, recipient of the Crystal Award for Excellence in Film, talked about how she had turned down a role in a Jane Campion film at 14 because it involved “wearing a shower cap and kissing another girl. But I wanted to be the kind of actress with long flowing hair and kissed boys. Today I know better. Jane, if you’re out there, I’m ready to don a shower cap and kiss any woman in the room,” she said, pulling out her shower cap. At the end of her speech, presenter and Kidman’s longtime friend Naomi Watts donned their caps and kissed before the audience at the Hyatt Regency Plaza in Century City. “Let’s take risks, let’s raise our voices, honor the fire within, ignore our fears. In short, let’s stand tall and never, ever apologize for it,” she said.
Sandra Bullock, who presented Sue Kroll with the Tiffany/Bruce Paltrow Mentoring Award, said, “There is so much power in this room, we are all going to be on the same menstrual cycle after this.”
Bullock called Warner Bros.’ president of worldwide marketing and international distribution “the stealth bomber of releasing.” When it looked like a project was going south, Bullock said Kroll adjusted the release schedule and was greatly responsible for the film’s success. That film was “Gravity.”
Kroll said, “Delivering the creative vision of artists worldwide is what I do.” She like other speakers, including Kidman, praised her mother and said, “Mentoring is critical in this business, particularly for women.”
Honoree Jill Soloway “changed television and made Amazon a new network,” said Judith Light, who stars in her “Transparent” and presented Soloway with the Lucy Award for Excellence in Television. ” ‘Transparent’ is the kind of show that changes hearts, minds and culture.”
From a young age, she and her sister enjoyed writing and putting on plays, she said. “Let’s play, because it’s called a play. Instead of learning all this bull s–t about cranes and lenses that I didn’t want to learn anyway.”
BMW Dorothy Arzner Directing Award recipient Ava DuVernay accepted the hardware from Phylicia Rashad. She admitted not knowing about the woman whose name was on the award, and did her research. “She started as a stenographer at Paramount Pictures; she edited her first film in 1919. She made films that starred Lucille Ball, Katharine Hepburn and Rosalind Russell. She launched their careers. And yet, I had no idea who she was. That’s a forgetting that’s just unacceptable. Even as we ask the industry to remember us and include us, we have to remember ourselves.”
For herself, she said, “If I’m a storyteller I must listen to stories being told by others.”
ICM Partners’ Toni Howard, who received the inaugural Sue Mengers Mentoring Award, also talked about her trophy’s namesake. Mengers was her mentor, she said. “I learned a lot from her. But she would also call me regularly late and night and say, ‘Come over to my house so I can tell you everything you’re doing wrong.’ “
She had the audience in stitches starting from when she pointed to the apple box on which she stood behind the podium and said she hadn’t grown “since the eighth grade.”
“My first job was selling Christmas cards and wrapping paper in a Jewish neighborhood,” Howard said. “To this day I hold the record for the most sold.”
The first honoree of the evening was Kate Mara, who accepted the Max Mara Face of the Future Award from global brand ambassador Nicola Maramotti. “Believe me, her last name is pure coincidence,” Maramotti said.
Mara said she had wanted to be an actress since age 9 when she left notes under her mother’s pillow asking for an agent. “I feel the same excitement and passion I had then,” she said. “We work in a powerful industry where stories we choose to tell can make a difference.”
Women in Film exec director Kirsten Schaffer announced the winner of a $25,000 Tiffany scholarship to Sofia Astrom, BMW’s mentoring program and a partnership with TCM to highlight female directors and their films throughout October.
WIF president Cathy Schulman talked about a joint venture with Lionsgate, Facebook and Tongal for “The Storytellers – New Creative Voices of ‘The Twilight Saga,’” an origins shorts contest. The eight finalists were given plaques by “Twilight” star Kristen Stewart and author Stephenie Meyer, who said, “I feel a responsibility to help other women get the opportunity to tell their stories.” The winning films will debut on Facebook in mid-July.
The audience also contributed to a WIF fundraiser and silent auction with Vietnamese actress and singer Ha Phuong giving $10,000 on the spot.