Film editors Lillian E. Benson and Richard Chew will receive Career Achievement Awards for their outstanding contributions to film editing at the 72nd Annual ACE Eddie Awards, taking place on March 5 at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.
“Lillian and Richard are rock star editors and represent the very best of our craft and profession,” said ACE president Kevin Tent. “Just look at those credits! Not only have they had incredibly prolific careers, but they’ve given back to our community in many ways, not the least of which by mentoring the next generation of editors. We are thrilled to honor these two special editors and look back at their amazing careers.”
Past recipients of the ACE Career Achievement Award include Alan Heim, Thelma Schoonmaker, Dede Allen, Janet Ashikaga, Craig Mckay, Margaret Booth, Carol Littleton, John Soh, Mark Goldblatt and Leon Ortiz-Gil, among many others.
Benson made history as the first woman of color invited to join American Cinema Editors just over 30 years ago. She has served on its board of directors for over two decades and has been instrumental in helping ACE expand and diversify its reach. Benson is currently editing the highly successful Dick Wolf procedural “Chicago Med,” which she has been working on for six seasons. Her career has been heavily entrenched in the documentary space, including projects such as “Beyond the Steps: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater,” “Motown 40: The Music is Forever,” “A Century of Living,” “Conscience and the Constitution,” “Smothered: The Censorship Struggles of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” “Craft in America” and “All Our Sons: Fallen Heroes of 9/11.”
Benson also left her creative thumbprints all over PBS institutions like “Independent Lens,” “American Masters,” “Great Performances” and “American Experience.” In 2016, she edited “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise,” about the American poet’s resiliency and impact on America. Other credits include “Greenleaf” for OWN, Debbie Allen’s “Old Settler,” “Life is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story,” the Showtime series “Soul Food” and the feature film “All About You.”
Her personal favorite in her extensive career was editing “John Lewis: Get in the Way.” “This documentary is the thing I love the most of anything I’ve ever done,” Benson said. “I feel I was born to cut it. It was released a couple of years before he died and was the first documentary done about his life. I love Lewis because he was a warrior his entire life. He never wavered. He did what he could. He forgave people; people I couldn’t forgive. He always had the bigger picture in mind.”
Chew’s body of work is punctuated with some of the most iconic films in history, earning BAFTA Awards for Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation.” For “Star Wars,” Chew won the film editing Oscar with his co-editors Marcia Lucas and Paul Hirsch.
From comic classics like “Risky Business” to arthouse gems like Allison Anders’ “Mi Vida Loca” and auteur epics such as Terence Malick’s “The New World,” Chew’s filmography has been all about independent choices, collaborating with filmmakers he admires and focusing on projects that move him. He’s been a favorite of actors-turned-directors, having cut Jack Nicholson’s “Goin’ South,” Richard Benjamin’s “My Favorite Year,” Forest Whitaker’s “Waiting to Exhale” and “Hope Floats,” Tom Hanks’ “That Thing You Do!” and Emilio Estevez’ “Bobby,” “The Way” and “The Public.” Other film credits include Cameron Crowe’s “Singles,” Martha Coolidge’s “Real Genius,” Floria Sigismondi’s “The Runaways,” “Shanghai Noon” and the 1967 Oscar-winning documentary short “The Redwoods,” for which he also served as the cinematographer.
For over thirty years, Chew has taught and lectured at art schools, film schools, colleges, universities, churches and community groups with the goal of enhancing audience appreciation for the cinema arts. He is a member of American Cinema Editors, the Motion Picture Editors Guild and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.