The WJFF’s Annual Visionary Award recognizes creativity and insight in presenting the full diversity of the Jewish experience through moving image. The 2017 honorees are two titans of independent cinema: Polish director Agnieszka Holland and the iconic American auteur Barry Levinson.
Barry Levinson’s award will be presented alongside a screening of Liberty Heights.
Thursday, May 18, 7:15 pm
AFI Silver Theatre
8633 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, MD
WJFF Visionary Award Honoree
Academy Award winner Director, Screenwriter, and Producer Barry Levinson has crafted an enviable reputation in the film industry as a director who blends literate and intelligent visions into films. Levinson was awarded the 1988 Best Director Oscar for the multiple Academy Award winning Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise.
In 1987, Levinson directed Robin Williams in the comedy Good Morning Vietnam, which went on to become one of the year’s most acclaimed and popular movies.
In 1991 Bugsy, which was directed and produced by Levinson, and was nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Levinson has used his hometown as the setting for four widely praised features: Diner, the semi-autobiographical comedy/drama that marked his directorial debut; Tin Men starring Danny DeVito and Richard Dreyfuss as warring aluminum siding salesmen; Avalon, in which his native city takes center stage through the recollections of an immigrant family; and Liberty Heights.
Barry Levinson dips back into his youth with the final edition of the semi-autobiographical Baltimore Quartet (Diner, Tin Men, Avalon).
In 1954, Ben Kurtzman (Ben Foster), a Jewish teen from Baltimore, is intrigued by new classmate Sylvia (Rebekah Johnson), who is one of the first African American students to attend his school. While Ben and Sylvia pursue a forbidden friendship, Ben’s older brother Van (Adrien Brody) is smitten with Dubbie (Carolyn Murphy), a beautiful and wealthy WASP who may as well live in another world.
Levinson’s sure direction keeps us focused on the maturation and evolution of a tight family unit, all while seismic cultural and societal shifts— the influx of automobiles, rock n’roll and desegregation—shake their hometown, and forever alter America’s course.
Susan Wloszczyna spent much of her nearly 30 years at USA TODAY as a senior entertainment reporter doing her dream job: Visiting the New Zealand film set of The Lord of the Rings, being a zombie extra in George Romero’s Land of the Dead and interviewing countless show-biz figures including icons (Vincent Price, Shirley Temple, Peter O’Toole, Mr. Rogers), A-list stars (George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Sandra Bullock, Denzel Washington) and big-name filmmakers (Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Jane Campion, Nancy Meyers, Spike Lee, Wes Anderson and Alexander Payne).
Her positions at the newspaper also included being a film reviewer for twelve years as well as the Life section copy desk chief.
Since 2013, Wloszczyna has been a regular critic and contributor for RogerEbert.com and also writes for AARP The Magazine, the MPAA’s The Credits and reviews books for The Buffalo News. She was previously an Oscar columnist at the Women and Film blog and a regular contributor to Thompson on Hollywood, and is a voting member of the Washington Area Film Critics Association, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.
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