Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s Charity Coin Delivers Big Results

Org helps nurture new cinema voices in Los Angeles, around the U.S. and abroad

HFPA Charity Haifaa Al-Mansour
Courtesy of HFPA

The reach of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.’s grant program goes well beyond the star-encrusted streets of Los Angeles.

The HFPA is known for donating to organizations in the entertainment industry and will host its annual Grants Banquet on Aug. 13 at the Beverly Wilshire. A starry group of presenters, including Andrew Garfield, Benicio del Toro, Halle Berry, Elizabeth Banks, Jon Hamm, Saoirse Ronan and Jane Fonda, will announce the recipients of $2.1 million in grants for 2015.

“The Golden Globes may be the most high-profile of the HFPA’s activities,” says the organization’s president, Lorenzo Soria, “but our support for cultural non-profits has engaged the passionate commitment of every one of our members.

In May, the HFPA announced its largest donation ever, pledging $2 million to the Los Angeles City College Foundation for the college’s cinema and television department. That was a special contribution, while beneficiaries of the org’s regular grants include the television, film and media studies department at Cal State Los Angeles and the Sundance Institute.

For Sundance, such a grant equates to the ability to create an international network, from Jordan to India. The HFPA and Sundance “share an alignment about the importance of developing creative culture and film culture and celebrating exciting voices,” says Keri Putnam, executive director of the Sundance Institute. “It’s been incredibly important to us that the HFPA has chosen to support our work in international feature films because … we love finding and supporting international artists whose work we believe in.”

With the help of an HFPA grant, Sundance hosts residential labs, which are highly selective workshops that bring promising artists to work on projects with mentors. Some 30% of the labs’ students come from outside the United States, according to Putnam. The result has been films such as 2012’s “Wadjda,” the first feature-length film made by a Saudi woman, Haifaa Al-Mansour (pictured).

The HFPA doesn’t just help to create content, but also works to save it. Another key aspect of the organization is film preservation and restoration.

“We’re grateful we’re able to do things like grants and scholarships,” says Theo Kingma, board member and former HFPA president. “Film preservation is also an important aspect of the HFPA and our members are extremely proud that we’re in that fortunate position.”

Closer to home, a $10,000 HFPA grant went to Streetlights, which works to bring ethnic diversity to the behind-the-camera world of feature films, television and commercial production through job training, job placement and networking opportunities.

“It’s so wonderful to have them as a partner for us,” says Dorothy Thompson, founder and executive director of Streetlights, of the Hollywood Foreign Press. “They lend us such credibility.”

What: HFPA Grants Banquet
When: Aug. 13
Where: Beverly Wilshire Hotel
Web: hfpa.org