Backlot of Film Festival Debuts in Culver City

 

The first Backlot Film Festival celebrated “A Tribute to the Extraordinary Motion Pictures of 1939.” This was a fitting debut for a film festival created to cultivate an appreciation of the rich heritage of the motion picture industry and to bring greater understanding of the debut current filmmaking owes to the earlier pioneers.

Held from December 16-19 2004, the festival focused on helping to strengthen the growing film program at the West Los Angeles College with screenings in its 400-seat Fine Arts Theatre.

FIRST “THOMAS H. INCE AWARD” HONORS DANIEL M. SELZNICK
The Festival’s first presentation of the “Thomas H. Ince Award” honored noted film producer Daniel M. Selznick whose professional and personal history reaches well into the “Golden Age of Movies.”

Thomas Ince, one of the most important and influential figures in the history of the Americal film industry, introduced production procedures and quality of standards that set the model and helped mold the district image of Hollywood films to this day.

It was with the encouragement of real estate entrepreneur Harry Culver in 1915 that Ince constructed the first of two major motion picture studios in the new town of Culver City. These two studios (now Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Culver Studios) dominated the economic, cultural and civic life of Culver City as well as publicizing Culver City around the world.

The legacy of Thomas Ince is enormously important to the history of the development of the motion picture industry in the United States, the City of Los Angeles and in Culver City. It is most appropriate that the Backlot Film Festival should establish the Thomas H. Ince Award to honor those filmmakers who have made a contribution to the history of the film industry in Culver City, California.
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It was a privilege to be the Director of the first BFF and I want to thank the many people who contributed to its philosophy, working extremely hard to make its premiere a sound success, including CCHS members Marc Wanamaker, Mark Morris and Paul Pitti.

Perhaps the most important realization to come from all the planning and hard work that went into presenting the Backlot Film Festival was learning how perilously close we are to losing so many of our film classics. (John Kirk, Director of Tech Operations at MGM/UA told me that Samuel Goldwyn’s widow destroyed all of his silent films because she felt they were outdated!)

Preservation is a difficult and expensive undertaking. It will be a primary goal of the future Backlot Film Festivals to address these problems and to encourage all who love to “go out to the movies” to help save them for future generations.

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