AFI Conservatory 2016 Commencement Celebrates New Filmmakers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — June 15, 2016, Los Angeles, CA — The American Film Institute (AFI) celebrated this year's 116 AFI Conservatory graduates — and the world's newest filmmakers — today at Hollywood's historic TCL Chinese Theatre. During Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2016, Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa were conferred upon Rita Moreno (SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, WEST SIDE STORY) and Quentin Tarantino (THE HATEFUL EIGHT, PULP FICTION) for their "contribution of distinction to the art of the moving image." Actress/director/producer and AFI Trustee Eva Longoria (DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, DEVIOUS MAIDS) presented the honor to award-winning actress Moreno. Leading film scholar Elvis Mitchell presented the honor to his friend, celebrated director/writer/producer Tarantino.
Words of wisdom were shared by presenters and Honorary Degree recipients to the Class of 2016. As an Honorary Degree presenter, Longoria advised the graduates to use Moreno "as a guiding light to include as many viewpoints as possible…and to do it with fire and beauty and love as she does." Accepting the honor, Moreno sang "Dream (When You're Feeling Blue)" a capella and shared, "Never give up, and remember in order to have it all, you have to love it all." Together, Longoria and Moreno, two leading figures in entertainment, shared in sentiments that characterized the Commencement overall: new storytellers such as this year's Class of 2016 are primed to break the mold of stereotype and to use the art form to reflect the diversity of the entertainment community and of our world.
Mitchell presented the Honorary Degree to Tarantino, calling him "the boldest and baddest voice in American film" whose "passion for the art form is as explosive as nitrate." Tarantino, accepting his degree, told Fellows, "I challenge and implore you to do your best. Your best is to be part of the artistic conversation. Contribute to the conversation on art, film, television, multimedia, race, culture, America, the world," he said. "Every daisy chain that happens when you make your art is just another chance to be part of the conversation. We need you."
Moreno and Tarantino join an esteemed group of distinguished past Honorary Degree recipients, including Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Kathryn Bigelow, Mel Brooks, Anne V. Coates, Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, Nora Ephron, James Earl Jones, Lawrence Kasdan, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Angela Lansbury, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, David Lynch, Helen Mirren, Robert Towne, Cicely Tyson, Haskell Wexler and John Williams.