Academy Museum to Honor Haile Gerima, Sophia Loren at Long-Delayed Opening Gala

The Ethiopian filmmaker and actress will be recognized in a Sept. 25 ceremony

Last Updated: March 8, 2021 @ 2:15 PM

Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima and Italian actress Sophia Loren are honorees for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opening gala on Sept. 25, the new museum announced Monday.

Co-chairs of the Gala are Academy Museum trustee and film and television producer Jason Blum; Academy governor and film director Ava DuVernay, and museum trustee and screenwriter, director and producer Ryan Murphy.

Disney executive chairman Bob Iger and actors Annette Bening and Tom Hanks will be saluted at the event, the Academy said in a statement.

Said museum director and president Bill Kramer in the statement: “It is such an honor to be able to recognize both Haile Gerima and Sophia Loren for their impactful and inspirational artistry and to acknowledge the incredible work of our Campaign Committee.  We are deeply grateful to our gala co-chairs and our sponsors for the extraordinary leadership and support of this inaugural event.”

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Photo Credit: Joshua White/JW Pictures Academy Museum Foundation

The museum finally opens to the public on Sept. 30, after years of delays and cost overruns. The most recent delays in the opening of the $482-million museum have been COVID-19-related. The museum postponed its planned Dec. 14 opening to April 30 due to COVID concerns and then again to April 30 for the same reason.

The honors to Gerima and Loren are the inaugural Vantage Award and the inaugural Visionary Award, respectively.  The Vantage Award honors an artist or scholar who according to a statement honors “an artist or scholar who has helped to contextualize and challenge dominant narratives around cinema.”  The Visionary Award honors “an artist or scholar whose extensive body of work has advanced the art of cinema.” Both awards are presented by Rolex, the presenting partner of the gala.

Gerima’s lengthy filmography includes “Teza” (2008), winner of several international awards including Best Screenplay and Jury Award at the Venice Film Festival, and Footprints of Pan Africanism (2013).  He recently completed the five-part documentary “Black Lions, Roman Wolves” and is currently producing the documentary “The Maroons of the United States” and “Yatoot Lij,” a drama set in Ethiopia.

Loren’s most recent film is “The Life Ahead,” directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, her first feature film in a decade.  In 1999, the American Film Institute included Loren on its list of the 25 biggest stars in cinema history.