I spent most of 2013 celebrating my father Stanley Kramer's Centennial with screenings, retrospectives and film festivals honoring his Legacy across the country. One of the highlights in recognizing my father's pioneering career was when I presented the North American premiere of Lawrence Johnston's documentary FALLOUT for the 5th Anniversary of my Cinema series "Kat Kramer's Films That Change The World." It explored my father making his classic film "On The Beach" in Melbourne, Australia adapted from Nevil Shute's famous novel. .
The 6th installment for my series will be filmmaker Jenni Gold's groundbreaking documentary "CinemAbility." Gold has already won numerous awards for the film including most recently, the 2014 AAPD Image Award. The doc details the history of how characters with disabilities have been portrayed in film and television. "CinemAbility" is narrated and co-produced by Jane Seymour,
It features high profile interviews with Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Beau Bridges, William H. Macy, Geena Davis, Marlee Matlin, Gary Sinise, Gale Ann Hurd, Geri Jewell,Vince Gilligan,RJ Mitte,Tobias Forrest, Taylor Hackford, Peter Farrelly and others.
Two of my father's films are featured, "The Men" Marlon Brando's film debut about paraplegic's being rehabilitated after the war, and "Ship Of Fools" focusing on little person actor Michael Dunn. Such films as "Ray," "The Miracle Worker," "The Sessions," and "My Left Foot" are featured.
One of the most impactful clips is from Hal Ashby's "Coming Home" the story of the plight of veterans featuring Academy Award winning actors Jane Fonda and Jon Voight.
When Fonda won her second Best Actress Academy Award in 1979 for this film, she spoke and signed her acceptance speech.
"I'm so happy. I wanted to win very much because I'm so proud of "Coming Home" and I want many people to see the movie." Fonda continued, "I'm signing part of what I'm saying tonight because while we were making the movie, we all became more aware of the problems of the handicapped. Over 14 million people are deaf. They are the invisible handicapped, and can't share this evening, so this is my way of acknowledging them." (End sign language.)
This was I believe the first time an Oscar acceptance speech was spoken and signed simultaneously.
I was lucky to have recently attended both the 42nd AFI Life Achievement Award to Jane Fonda and her inspiring commencement address to the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television class of 2014.
One of the most moving moments during the AFI Ceremony was when former veteran and Anti-war Activist Ron Kovic made a "surprise" appearance. He is also featured in a clip in "CinemAbility" and Tom Cruise portrayed Kovic in "Born On The Fourth Of July." He was a catalyst for "Coming Home" and he had once told Fonda that his war experience had caused him to realize that "I may have lost my body, but I gained my mind."
Jane Fonda herself offered words of wisdom to the graduates by recognizing that telling stories requires "the compulsion to capture the moment." She urged them to "use every tool in their tool box" and stressed that "storytelling can uplift and alter opinions." And like my father Stanley Kramer, it is easier for audiences to embrace films about tough social-issues if they are entertaining at the same time.
She talked about how many of the films she produced and starred in from "Coming Home" and "Nine To Five," "The China Syndrome," and "On Golden Pond" had messages but by using either comedy, romance, suspense thriller or family relationships, the masses were able to accept the issues.
I am proud to be screening "CinemAbility" this coming October for it is a film that according to Gold is "the last great civil rights movement of our time" and it also entertains, educates and enlightens.