Academy Awards to Honor Eight Scientific and Technical Achievements – Film News in Brief

Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Statue Placeholder
Andrew Eccles for Variety

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that it will present eight awards at the annual Scientific and Technical Awards ceremony on Feb. 24. 19 individuals will be awarded in the event’s first in-person ceremony since 2019.

Iain Neil will also receive the Gorden E. Sawyer Award at the event, honoring his technological contributions to the film industry.

“Since 1931, the Academy has recognized the most important innovations in filmmaking; inventors and engineers have been advancing the art and science of motion pictures ever since,” said chair of the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee Barbara Ford Grant in a statement. “This year we honor achievements spanning accomplishments from pioneering methods in practical rain effects to career-long contributions in optical design for cinematography to humanistic-driven AI techniques.”

Award recipients are as follows:

Technical Achievement Awards (Academy Certificates)

  • Howard Jensen and Danny Cangemi for the concept and creation of rain bars
  • John Frazier for the development of rain bars
  • Mark Hills and Jim Vanns for the design and engineering of the FQ render farm management system
  • Matt Chambers for his contributions to modern render farm management system design
  • Sébastien Deguy and Christophe Soum for the concept and original implementation of Substance Engine
  • Sylvain Paris and Nicolas Wirrmann for the design and engineering of Substance Designer
  • David Eberle, Theodore Kim, Fernando de Goes and Audrey Wong for the design and development of the Fizt2 elastic simulation system

Scientific and Engineering Awards (Academy Plagues)

  • Larry Barton for the pioneering design, development and engineering of CineTape
  • Ben Wilcox for the electronic engineering and software development of CineTape
  • Howard Preston for the concept, design and engineering of the Preston Cinema Systems Light Ranger 2
  • Bernie Butler-Smith for the design and implementation of electronic circuitry and software of the Preston Cinema Systems Light Ranger 2

Award of Commendation (Special Plague)

  • Ryan Laney for his innovative adaptation and deployment of AI-driven facial veiling technology

Gordon E. Sawyer Award (Oscar Statuette)

  • Iain Neil for his substantial, extensive and innovative lens designs

AGC Studios to Produce ‘The Order’ With Stars Jude Law, Nicholas Hoult

AGC Studios is set to finance and produce an upcoming crime thriller titled “The Order,” studio chairman and CEO Stuart Ford announced Feb. 3. Production will commence in May 2023.

The feature will be directed by Justin Kurzel, whose prior filmography includes “Assassin’s Creed” and 2015’s “Macbeth.” BAFTA winner Jude Law, best known for recurring roles in the “Sherlock Holmes” and “Fantastic Beasts” franchises, will take the lead alongside “Renfield” star Nicholas Hoult, who most recently appeared in “The Menu.”

Set in 1983, “The Order” follows an FBI agent (Law) who begins to investigate a group of domestic terrorists, led by Hoult’s character, after the Pacific Northwest sees an uptick in violent robberies. The script, penned by Oscar-nominated writer Zach Baylin is based on the book “The Silent Brotherhood” by Kevin Flynn and Gary Gerhardt, which documents the true crimes of a group of white supremacists who identify with the titular moniker.

American Film Institute Reveals 2023 Festival Dates and Commences Short Film Competition

The 37th annual AFI Fest is confirmed to take place in-person at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd., the American Film Institute announced on Thursday. The five-day event will run Oct. 25-29, featuring a slew of star-studded red carpets and global premieres.

“As we look ahead to AFI Fest, we are reminded of the power of film festivals to immerse, to inspire and to bring us together,” said AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale. “We look forward to shining a proper light upon films from around the world that move us and to celebrating the artists that lead the way to a brighter future.”

Starting Thursday, filmmakers across fiction, documentary and animation are also eligible to submit entries to the festival’s Short Film Competition program. The final deadline for submissions is June 1.

Comedian Hasan Minhaj Announced as Film Independent Spirit Awards Host

Film Independent has announced comedian Hasan Minhaj will host the 38th annual Spirit Awards, the nonprofit organization’s largest fundraiser, on March 4.

Minhaj is known for his nuanced and incisive humor, as seen in his breakout standup special “Homecoming King,” his political satire series “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” which won an Emmy and Peabody award, and his acclaimed comedy special “The King’s Jester.” The comedian has also worked on projects including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “The Spy Who Dumped Me” and “The Morning Show.”

“With his unparalleled ability to bring both humor and perception to the issues around us, Hasan Minhaj is the ideal host to help us celebrate these independent artists,” said Film Independent president Josh Welsh in a statement. “We can’t wait to see what surprises he has in store for the Spirit Awards on March 4.”

The 38th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards will be held live in Santa Monica at 2 p.m. and will stream on IMDb and Film Independent’s YouTube channel.

Ryan Coogler and Tracy Oliver Join USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Board of Councilors

Filmmakers Ryan Coogler and Tracy Oliver have joined the SCA Board of Councilors at USC, dean Elizabeth Daley and Donna Langley announced. The Board of Councilors guides overall strategic planning, development and fundraising efforts.

“Ryan and Tracy have dominated the industry with their innovative craft and mastered the art of storytelling for a global audience. They wholly embody the attributions of the next generation of this board and our business,” said Donna Langley, Chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and SCA’s Board of Councilors.”

“Black Panther” director Coogler graduated in 2011. Writer-producer-director Oliver, who graduated USC in 2010, is the writer of “Girls Trip,” “Harlem” and “First Wives Club.”

Rita Moreno, EGOT Winner and ‘Cultural Icon,’ to be Honored at 38th Annual Artios Awards

EGOT winner Rita Moreno is set to receive the Lynn Stalmaster Award for Career Achievement at the 38th annual Artios Awards.

Moreno’s name has appeared on well over 150 call sheets, with credits spanning from her Academy Award-winning breakout role as Anita in 1961’s “West Side Story” to director Kyle Marvin’s “80 for Brady,” which hits theaters this Friday. She was also honored with the 2009 National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama, the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and a Peabody Career Achievement Award in 2018.

“Ms. Moreno has an illustrious career and is a cultural icon,” said Destiny Lilly, president of the Casting Society of America (CSA). “We are beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to present to her with this award to celebrate everything that she has accomplished.”

The Artios Awards, presented by the CSA, primarily serves to recognize casting professionals with notable accolades across film, television and theater. This year’s celebration will take place at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California on March 9 with “Community” actor Yvette Nicole Brown returning as host.

Simone Bär, the late casting director for Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” and Netflix’s crime-drama series “Dark,” will posthumously receive the 2023 European Capalier-Shaw Award for Excellence in Casting — an honor she was selected to receive before passing away Jan. 16.

Film nominees for the 2023 Artios Awards can be found here.

Laika and Museum of Pop Culture Announce Stop Motion Animation Exhibition

LAIKA and Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) announced an upcoming exhibition that highlights the studio’s artistry and innovation, “Hidden Worlds: The Films of LAIKA.” Visitors can enter the “hidden worlds,” immersing themselves in the character’s settings as well as the behind-the-scenes creation.

“Hidden Worlds: The Films of LAIKA” is the largest exhibition the studio has ever created and will highlight its works including “Coraline,” (2009), “ParaNorman” (2012), “The Boxtrolls” (2014), “Kubo and the Two Strings” (2016) “Missing Link” (2019) and the upcoming “Wildwood” in a space over 7500 square feet. Visitors can experience six recreations of LAIKA worlds, take a “puppets-eye-view” of a LAIKA set and create their own stop motion animation where they are the puppet.

“LAIKA is a multifaceted community of dreamers, makers, storytellers, scientists, engineers, and artists all committed to make movies that matter,” said LAIKA’s CMO and SVP of operations David Burke in a statement. “Film is a universally shared cultural language and it’s thrilling to be partnered with MoPOP, which celebrates the power of popular culture and the individuals who create that magic.”

“Hidden Worlds: The Films of LAIKA” opens March 17.

Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation Announced Latest Selection of Films

Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation has released the screening list for its upcoming “Restoration Screening Room.”

Audiences are given the opportunity to watch classic films free of charge, accompanied by special features that explain the importance of each title. Each film has been selected personally by Martin Scorsese and film scholar Kent Jones in effort to provide audiences with a series of diverse films from around the world. The films are restored by the foundation and its partners, Oracle and DelphiQuest.

Each title will be presented with live commentary on the second Monday of the month at 7 pm EST. The films will also be available on-demand for 72 hours, starting at 7 pm local time the Saturday prior.

See below for the screening list and dates:

February 13 – “The River”(1951, d. Jean Renoir)
March 13 – Double Feature: “Caught” (1949, d. Max Ophüls) and “Force of Evil” (1948, d. Abraham Polonsky)
April 10 – “Prisoneros De La Tierra” (1939, d. Mario Soffici)
May 8 – “Stella Dallas”(1925, d. Henry King)

The films are available through any web browser via film-foundation.org/restoration-screening-room.

‘The Covenant’ Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim, Gets Official Trailer

MGM has released the first trailer for Guy Ritchie’s “The Covenant,” an action film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim set to release in theaters April 21.

“The Covenant” tells the story of U.S. Army Sergeant John Kinley (Gyllenhaal) and Afghan interpreter Ahmed (Salim), as the two go to great lengths to come out of the war zone alive. After an ambush, Ahmed goes to extreme lengths to save Kinley’s life. Kinley then learns that Ahmed and his family were not given safe passage to America as promised, in return Kinley must repay his debt by returning to the war zone to retrieve Ahmed and his family before the Taliban hunts them down first.

Directed, written and produced by Ritchie, the script is also written by Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies. Alongside Ritchie, the film was produced by Atkinson, John Friedberg and Josh Berger. Executive producers include Samantha Waite, Olga Filipuk, Robert Simonds and Adam Fogelson.

‘Or Something,’ Starring Kareem Rahma and Mary Neely, Has Wrapped Production

“Or Something” directed by Jeffrey Schroeder, is the producer’s feature directorial debut. The film stars comedians Kareem Rahma (“Out of Order”) and Mary Neely (“Lyle Lyle Crocodile”). The two comedians not only star in the film, but the two co-wrote the production and describe their upcoming film as “a dark, modern walk-and-talk that explores a spectrum of sensitive topics.” 

According the film’s logline, the upcoming feature “tells the story about strangers who show up at the same apartment to collect cash they’re both owed. The pair, one of whom is hiding a terrible secret, are sent on a journey across New York City.”

The film also stars Brandon Wardell (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and David Zayas (“Dexter”). In addition to directing, Schroeder is producing the film with Deep Cut Film partner, Daniel Blackwell, and Goldfin Films’ Sophia Loren Heriveaux.