Dec 28, 2009
The American Film Institute (AFI) today
announced the year’s AFI Moments of Significance. These eight noteworthy events
were determined to have had an impact on the world of the moving image during
the calendar year 2009.
Each year, AFI AWARDS adds another volume to
the history of American film and television by documenting the collective
opinion of the moving image communities, archiving the year’s significant
moments and honoring the talent and collaborative teams who have created the
year’s outstanding accomplishments.
Ten AFI Movies of the Year and 10 AFI
Television Programs of the Year were announced earlier this month. A complete
list of the 2009 official selections and the 2009 juries can be found at AFI.com.
The 2009 AFI AWARDS selections were made
through AFI’s unique 13-person jury process in which scholars, film artists,
critics and AFI Trustees discuss, debate and determine the most outstanding
achievements of the year, as well as highlight these significant events that
will shape our cultural legacy. Two AFI juries—one for motion pictures and one
for television—convened in Los Angeles for two days of deliberations.
AFI will honor the creative ensembles for
each of the selections at a luncheon sponsored by Hewlett-Packard on Friday,
January 15, 2010 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, California. The
luncheon is by invitation only.
AFI Moments of Significance may include
accomplishments of considerable merit; influences with either a positive or
negative impression; trends, either new or re-emerging; anniversaries or
memorials of special note; and/or movements in new technologies, education,
preservation, government or other areas that impact the art film, television
and digital media.
The AFI Moments of Significance selections
are listed below:
AFI MOMENTS OF SIGNIFICANCE
AVATAR – JAMES CAMERON’S MILEPOST IN THE
EVOLUTION OF THE ART FORM
James Cameron’s pioneering effort to unleash the human
imagination was fully realized in 2009 with the release of AVATAR, a film that
firmly established itself as a landmark in the way stories are told.
With an army of technological wizards at his side,
writer/director/producer/co-editor Cameron called upon the forces of art and
technology to create new tools for storytelling that are groundbreaking in both
scope and scale.
The magic of the motion picture – and the transfer of its
power to television and now video games – has always found its truest power in
its immersive qualities, and with Cameron’s advances in CGI (computer-generated
images) and 3-D, AVATAR enters AFI’s almanac as an achievement that will have
profound effects on the future of the art form.
TWITTER: THE NEW WATERCOOLER
Twitter, the Internet platform for messages of up to 140
characters, has become a powerful force in the worlds of film and television.
It has long been proven that the most effective way to attract an audience is
through “word of mouth,” and Twitter allows for these influential conversations
to be immediate and international.
Twitter has also created new and direct channels of
communication for artists to speak directly to their fan base. Most notably, in
2009, Ashton Kutcher enlisted over one million followers to his “tweets.”
In marketing terms, Twitter and other forms of social
networking have allowed motion pictures and television programs the opportunity
to both expand and unite their audiences. For example, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
became a cultural sensation in 2009 for mastering “word of mouth” marketing via
social networks, in addition to telling a terrifying tale very well. In
television, Twitter helped to ensure “appointment television” by creating
venues for viewers to comment on shows as
they aired. For example, GLEE employed Twitter to broaden its fan
base of “Gleeks.”
THE LENO EXPERIMENT AND THE LOSS OF DRAMA
On September 14, 2009, NBC premiered THE JAY LENO SHOW, a
reformatted version of THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO, to run Monday through
Friday at 10:00 p.m.
As a result, five hours traditionally reserved for
episodic drama were dropped from the broadcast television landscape. The move
had a harsh effect in job losses for the creative ensembles whose stories were
told at that time, and also among national affiliate stations whose ratings for
11:00 p.m. local news programs dropped significantly.
This experiment can be viewed as another chapter in the
evolution of television to less expensive programming, which began in force
with the emergence of reality television. However, audiences have found quality
dramas moving in force to cable and pay cable television, and the world awaits
the first breakout drama scripted for the Internet.
REALITY TV AND THE LOSS OF BOUNDARIES
Reality television crossed a line in 2009 as the cultural
craving for celebrity moved in a dangerous new direction. Most significantly,
the “characters” now referred to as “Balloon Boy” and “Octomom,” in addition to
a couple who allegedly infiltrated the White House to attend a state dinner,
have marked the year as one in which the health and welfare of our citizens
should be considered before the standards and practices of television.
THE END OF ANALOG AND OTHER SIGNS OF SEA
On June 12, 2009, analog television switched off, and the
digital revolution saw a new day. This moment is mostly symbolic, but signaled
further change across many former television traditions:
• Several long-running soap operas were cancelled in
2009. GUIDING LIGHT, the longest-running drama in television and radio history,
aired its final episode on September 18, 2009. The program began in 1937,
during the second Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was also
announced that AS THE WORLD TURNS, a daytime staple since 1956, would air its
last episode on September 10, 2010. The demise of the soap opera can be linked
to the omnipresent melodrama presented in news, reality and other programs that
are now available instantaneously, around the clock and on many platforms.
• Long-form television became more scarce in 2009. While
excellent programs like GREY GARDENS, INTO THE STORM and PRAYERS FOR BOBBY
proved there was still quality work being done in the field, the fragmentation
of the television audience strained the economics of the old business model for
TV movies and mini-series.
Other notable moments in the sea of change include
Comcast’s bid to acquire NBC Universal to ensure content for distribution to
its more than 23 million subscribers, as well as the continued rise in the
reliance of DVRs (digital video recorders) so that audiences have shows when
and where they wish to view them.
2009 – A YEAR OF EXTRAORDINARY ANIMATION
Though animation has been a genre of great impact since
the dawn of the moving image, 2009 marked a year that saw a dazzling explosion
of noteworthy work from many of the nation’s finest artists, and in forms vast
and varied – from classic hand-drawn stories like THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG; to
stop-motion splendors like CORALINE and FANTASTIC MR. FOX; to
computer-generated creations like 9, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, ICE
AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS and MONSTERS VS. ALIENS.
THIS IS IT – DEATH OF MICHAEL JACKSON
Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009. One of the most
influential entertainers in modern day, Jackson’s death was met with a
worldwide expression of grief.
In the months that followed his death, Jackson’s talents
were celebrated on-line, with a renewed interest in the musical and video gifts
he had given the world over five decades; on television, as millions tuned in
for his memorial and funeral services; and, most notably, in theatres, with the
film THIS IS IT, a documentary crafted from the rehearsal footage for an
upcoming concert tour. The film proved an unprecedented global eulogy for fans
and friends of the “King of Pop.”
RECESSION – THE MOVIES AGAIN PROVE A TONIC
FOR ECONOMIC AILS
Just as Americans flocked to musicals and screwball
comedies during the Great Depression of the 1930s, audiences in 2009 escaped
their worries by going to the movies. Though total admissions do not compare,
it is worthy to note that in the world’s darkest economic time since the
Depression, American films grossed more money than any time in the history of
the art form. Aliens, vampires and wizards may have replaced Fred Astaire and
Ginger Rogers on the silver screen, but the movies still provide joy and refuge
in a story well told.
About the American Film
AFI is a national institute providing leadership in
screen education and the recognition and celebration of excellence in the art
of film, television and digital media.
AFI trains the next generation of filmmakers at its
world-renowned AFI Conservatory, preserves the legacy of America's film
heritage through the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and AFI Archives,
explores new digital technologies at the AFI Digital Content Lab and honors
artists and their work through a variety of programs and special events.
For 37 years, the AFI Life Achievement
Award has remained the highest honor for a career in film. AFI also honors
the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year at AFI
Awards, the institute’s almanac for the 21st century, while AFI’s
100 Years… series has introduced and reintroduced classic American movies
to millions of film lovers. And as the largest nonprofit exhibitor
in the United States, AFI's festivals include AFI FEST presented by Audi in Los
Angeles and AFI-Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS documentary film festival in
Silver Spring, Maryland. AFI exhibition also offers year-round programming at
the ArcLight Cinemas and Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and the AFI
Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in the Washington DC, area. Additional
information about AFI is available at AFI.com.