You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

DGA retires Griffith kudo, seeks new award name

Move comes as industry criticized for pushing stereotypes

Reflecting a sensitivity to race relations and changing awareness, the DGA is retiring its D.W. Griffith Award, prexy Jack Shea said Tuesday.

Another moniker for the career achievement honor will be chosen instead.

“As we approach a new millennium, the time is right to create a new ultimate honor for film directors that better reflects the sensibilities of our society at this time in our national history,” the Directors Guild of America president said. “There is no question that D.W. Griffith was a brilliant pioneer filmmaker. … However, it is also true that he helped foster intolerable racial stereotypes.”

Move to retire the Griffith name comes as the entertainment industry — particularly TV and film — faces attacks for what the NAACP and others have labeled its lack of ethnic diversity and insensitivity to racial issues.

NAACP applause

NAACP president and CEO Kweisi Mfume praised the action: “I applaud the DGA for their move to discontinue the award. It is wrong to celebrate anyone who played such a negative role and who promoted negative images that we still fight against today.

“This move by the DGA helps lay to rest a protest that began 84 years ago, when the NAACP marched against ‘Birth of a Nation.’ I would encourage the Guild to replace Griffith’s award with an award named for a director of substance who has done the opposite of Griffith, and promoted understanding and tolerance.”

Dual legacy

Griffith’s technical contributions, creating cinematic devices such as the flashback and crosscutting, secured him a place as one of the great directors of all time, but his films also promoted negative racial images.

Born in rural Kentucky in 1875, Griffith was the son of a Confederate Army colonel. His 1915 epic “Birth of a Nation” originally premiered as “The Clansman.”

The D.W. Griffith Award has been presented to 28 directors in the past 46 years. It is given out only when the DGA National Board decides a director has earned the honor based on his or her body of work (a woman has yet to receive the award).

Past recipients have included Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, Akira Kurosawa, Elia Kazan, Billy Wilder, Orson Welles, John Huston, Alfred Hitchcock and Frank Capra. The award’s first recipient was Cecil B. De Mille.

With the retirement of the Griffith Award, the DGA has voted to create a new career achievement nod. Like its predecessor, the honor will be given in recognition of a lifetime of distinguished achievement in motion picture direction. The new award has yet to be named.

More Film

  • Chris Evans attends the "Lobby Hero"

    Chris Evans' Action Film 'The Red Sea Diving Resort' Bought by Netflix

    Netflix has bought global rights, excluding China, to Chris Evans’ action-thriller “The Red Sea Diving Resort” for release later this year. Haley Bennett, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michiel Huisman, Greg Kinnear, and Ben Kingsley also star. “The Red Sea Diving Resort” is directed by “Homeland” creator Gideon Raff from his own script. Raff had [...]

  • 'Star Wars Episode IX' Has Officially

    'Star Wars Episode IX' Has Officially Wrapped

    The end is nigh! Filming for “Star Wars Episode IX” has officially wrapped, bringing an end to a franchise that has spanned more than 40 years and eight films. Director J.J. Abrams confirmed the news Friday tweeting, “It feels impossible, but today wrapped photography on ‘Episode IX.’ There is no adequate way to thank this [...]

  • Ben Affleck Batman

    Ben Affleck Explains Why He's Done Playing Batman: 'I Couldn't Crack It'

    Ben Affleck is hanging up his cape and saying goodbye to Batman. In an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Thursday, the actor explained why he will not be returning as the Caped Crusader in the 2021 film “The Batman,” to be written and directed by Matt Reeves. Affleck is retiring from the role after playing [...]

  • 'Great Bear Rainforest' Review

    Film Review: 'Great Bear Rainforest'

    Imax documentaries take us into the wilderness in ways we could only ever dream of experiencing in person, inviting us to marvel at the majesty of mother nature. Director Ian McAllister’s “Great Bear Rainforest” journeys deep into a remote, relatively untouched landscape where crystal clear lakes mirror the mountains and misty, mossy cedar forests tower [...]

  • Seu Jorge, director Wagner Moura, Bella

    Makers of Berlin Competition Title 'Marighella' Worry About Distribution at Home

    Worried that growing political tension in Brazil may hamper the domestic release of “Marighella,” Wagner Moura’s directorial debut about a leftist revolutionary, the movie’s producers may seek to crowd-fund its distribution independently. “We are going to fight for it,” producer Andrea Barata Ribeiro said ahead of the film’s world premiere at the Berlinale on Friday. [...]

  • Isle of Dogs

    ‘Isle of Dogs’ Called for a Thousand Sophisticated Puppets

    Andy Gent says it was clear as soon as he read Wes Anderson’s script for “Isle of Dogs” that the project was very ambitious. It just took a while to understand exactly how ambitious. For example, it was originally estimated the animated movie would require between 300 and 400 puppets, the same number needed for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content