96th Annual Academy Awards to Feature Many ‘Firsts’
By Tonya Mantooth, CEO/Artistic Director / San Diego International Film Festival
On March 10, 2024 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will present the 96th Annual Academy Awards show honoring the best films of 2023.
For those familiar with the SD Intl Film Festival’s mission to utilize the power of film to broaden our perspectives to encourage empathy and understanding, we are delighted to see so many ‘firsts’ for the industry with this year’s list of nominees.
Here’s some highlights:
Three of the ten movies nominated for best picture were directed by females – the most in Academy Awards 96-year history: Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” Celine Song’s “Past Lives” and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie”.
There are two first time directors out of the 10 nominated Best Picture films … Cord Jefferson for “American Fiction” and Celine Song for “Past Lives”.
First-time director and screenwriter Celine Song also made history as the first Asian woman nominated for Best Original Screenplay for “Past Lives.”
And, for the first time, four female screenwriters are being recognized with “Anatomy of a Fall” (Justine Triet), “May December” (Samy Burch) and “Past Lives” (Celine Song) for Original Screenplays along with Greta Gerwig for her Adapted Screenplay for “Barbie”
This year also marks the first time where more than one movie primarily not spoken in English was nominated for Best Picture: “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Past Lives” and “The Zone of Interest.”
Colman Domingo became the first Afro Latino nominated as Best Actor for his powerhouse performance in the civil rights drama “Rustin.” He’s joined by fellow Black nominee Jeffrey Wright for “American Fiction.”
Two Black women were nominated for supporting actress: Danielle Brooks for “The Color Purple” (as that film’s sole nominee) and Da’Vine Joy Randolph for “The Holdovers” which was the Opening Night Film at last year’s San Diego International Film Festival!
Lily Gladstone made history as the first Native American nominated for Best Actress in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
Colman Domingo (“Rustin”) and best supporting actress nominee Jodie Foster (“Nyad”) also made Oscar history as the first time two openly LGBTQ+ actors have been nominated for playing LGBTQ+ characters.
And … 91-year-old iconic film composer, John Williams, earned his 49th Oscar nod for Original Score for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” bringing his total number of Oscar nominations to 54 … more than any other living person!
With all of these “firsts,” it would be an understatement to say we are excited about the progress being made in our industry. I am especially proud that Festivals are an essential part of the ecosystem that not only provides that “first look” at the work of Independent Filmmakers around the world but also plays a vital role in the industry’s ability to broaden its perspectives.
The San Diego International Film Festival has consistently presented initiatives designed to encourage underrepresented Filmmakers. For example, the Festival’s partnership with the Women’s Museum of California presents the “Women’s Film Series” dedicated to providing women storytellers and Filmmakers a platform to encourage development of creative projects by women. The Festival also showcases Social Impact films that affect our world and our communities such as our American Indian Filmmakers, Military, LGBTQAI+, Diversity & Inclusion and more. On March 10, the San Diego International Film Festival will be hosting our ‘Awards Viewing Party’ at an exclusive estate in Rancho Santa Fe. We’ll be walking our Red Carpet and rooting for our favorite films of the year while enjoying food and wine pairings from some of San Diego’s top Chefs. The evening will benefit the Festival’s FOCUS on Impact Educational Program. Please consider this an invitation to join us … CLICK HERE for more party information and tickets.