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Mel Brooks, David Lynch Receive Honorary Degrees At AFI Commencement

By | Wednesday June 13, 2012 @ 5:25pm PDT
Pete Hammond

June is  the season for graduations around the nation and the American Film Institute is no different. After handing out their 40th Life Achievement Award less than a week ago to Shirley MacLaine today the focus was on those just embarking on a career in the entertainment industry (in addition to two very well-known veterans).

This AFI Commencement stood out as a purely Hollywoood affair taking place not on their own campus, but rather a short distance away inside Grauman’s Chinese theatre. In addition to the 121 graduates receiving their AFI diplomas in fields including screenwriting, directing, producing, production design, cinematography and editing, the undisputed highlight of the 90-minute ceremony (presided over by AFI CEO and President Bob Gazzale) were the two Honorary Degree recipients Mel Brooks and David Lynch.

It was actually appropiate the two receive these honors together because Mel, through his production entity Brooksfilm actually gave Lynch his first big directing job on 1980′s much-acclaimed Best Picture nominee The Elephant Man resulting in a Best Director Oscar nomination for Lynch. After a funny intro from “best friend” Carl Reiner and a clip reel covering such Brooks classics as The 2000 Year Old Man, The Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein among others, Brooks stepped up to tell Reiner he was confused by it all. “I’m very honored and I’m very happy but bitterly disappointed. When I was offered this award I thought I was gonna become a doctor. And in fact I was … Read More »

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AFI Degrees To Mel Brooks & David Lynch

By | Tuesday May 29, 2012 @ 6:33pm PDT

LOS ANGELES, CA, May 29, 2012 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced it will confer Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa upon American comedy icon Mel Brooks and celebrated surrealist David Lynch for “contribution of distinction to the art of the moving image” during AFI Conservatory commencement 2012 at Hollywood’s landmark Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Both artists worked together on the Academy Award winning THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), with Lynch as director and screenwriter and Brooks as executive producer. Previous recipients of the AFI Honorary Degree include Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, James Earl Jones, Nora Ephron, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Helen Mirren, Haskell Wexler and John Williams.

(Photos: Getty Images)

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Welcome To David Lynch’s Video Nightmare

By | Tuesday April 3, 2012 @ 6:55am PDT
Mike Fleming

While David Lynch hasn’t brought his surreal style to a feature film since 2006′s Inland Empire, the Eraserhead helmer appears to be in peak form here with Crazy Clown Time, a video he directed for the title track off his debut solo album. Lynch, who has often written music for his many films, put out an album of 14 original songs on which he plays guitar, sings and produced the tracks. Lynch describes his style as “modern blues.” Deadline got a sense of the tunes when I wrote about the disc last summer, and I predicted that the pulsating, synthesizer-heavy dance tunes with heavily processed vocals would be as polarizing as Lynch’s films; some will love it, others will check their ears for bleeding. Here is Lynch’s bizarre Crazy Clown Time video. I don’t know about you, but the beat and bizarre imagery makes me long for that first season of Twin Peaks.

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Film School Diplomacy: State Dept., USC Select Movies For U.S. Outreach Initiative

By | Thursday February 9, 2012 @ 10:51pm PST

The U.S. State Department and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts selected 29 films for an international cultural outreach initiative dubbed the “American Film Showcase.” The worldwide series of events, also in conjunction with Film Independent and the International Documentary Association will feature documentaries, narratives, animated shorts and more. The showcase is an extension of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s concept of “smart power diplomacy.” The idea is to showcase U.S. ideals through a range of soft diplomatic tools that “reflect diversity” in contemporary American life.

In addition to screening the 29 films to overseas audiences, the program will involve filmmakers and experts who will participate in lectures, master classes and in other settings focusing on filmmaking, digital technology and emerging media. “American film is a unique way in which we can engage audiences, especially youth, worldwide,” according to a statement by Ann Stock, assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. ”For generations, film has opened the doors to dialogue. This international exchange initiative harnesses the power of film. The American Film Showcase brings people together and strengthens those relationships for the benefit of the global community.” Read More »

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David Lynch Makes Trailer For Vienna Fest

By | Friday September 23, 2011 @ 11:08pm PDT

The Vienna International Film Festival, aka the Viennale, scored a coup for its latest promotional festival trailer: This year’s comes from none other than David Lynch. Titled The 3 Rs, it serves as a very brief return to film while Lynch preps the release of his debut solo album. The Viennale, set for Oct. 20-Nov. 2, has a tradition of seeking out high-profile directors for these shorts, and because 2006′s Inland Empire was the last Lynch has been seen, this one’s sure to attract a lot of eyeballs.

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‘Eraserhead’ Helmer David Lynch Releases Solo Music Album ‘Crazy Clown Time’

By | Monday August 15, 2011 @ 8:04am PDT
Mike Fleming

His last feature was 2006′s Inland Empire and he hasn’t directed a widely distributed movie since 2001′s Mulholland Drive, but that doesn’t mean Eraserhead helmer David Lynch has disappeared completely. Lynch’s debut solo album Crazy Clown Time will drop on Nov. 8 from British label Sunday Best Recordings and PIAS in the US. Lynch, who has often written music for his many films, has 14 original songs here on which he plays guitar and sings. He also produced the tracks. The songs are dark; Lynch describes his style as “modern blues.” He gave a taste with the release of Good Day Today and I Know, both of which are on the album. Those songs are pulsating, synthesizer-heavy dance tunes with heavily processed vocals that will likely be as polarizing as Lynch’s films; some will love it, others will check their ears for bleeding. Recording artist is the latest stop on an eclectic and unpredictable career. Lynch has made some films reserved for hard-core fans (Wild at Heart and Dune), but when he is on, there is no filmmaker quite like him. That includes films like Blue Velvet and Elephant Man; and the first season of his creepily atmospheric TV series Twin Peaks set a bar so high that TV cable dramas are still trying to surpass it. Here’s a video done for I Know:

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