A Brief History of the American Cinematheque Awards

A Brief History of the American Cinematheque Awards

The American Cinematheque Awards celebrate international film, video and television. The annual film festival is considered America’s most prestigious film festivals as it celebrates all form of the genre and encourages participation of film lovers and film students. The awards ceremony is just a small part of the festival. The American Cinematheque highlights several areas of the industry through several annual festivals including rock culture films, television shows as well as international films from the past and present. Each year, the American Cinematheque honors a person in the film industry who has made an impact. This year, actress Amy Adams was honored.

Here is a brief history of the American Cinematheque Awards.

The beginning

America Cinematheque began as an offshoot of the Filmex Los Angeles Film Festival which ran from 1971 through 1983. From 1981 until 1987, the American Cinematheque began raising money as a non-profit organization in order to hold an annual series of festivals dedicated to presenting film in all of its form and honoring special contributors to the industry as well as holding forums for film lovers and film students.


Over the past three and a half decades, the American Cinematheque has grown to include many different forums to enhance the love of the film industry in all of its genres. The Festival caters to film lovers and film students providing forums as well as movie screenings and awards. In 1999 the Mods and Rockers Festival was added to the schedule of events. This became a six week retrospective of rock and roll films and one of the biggest film festivals in America.

Each year, the American Cinematheque Film Festival honors a filmmaker for his or her contribution to the art form. Past winners of the award include Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Rob Reiner and Ron Howard as well as Sean Connery, John Travolta, Mel Gibson, Al Pacino, Bruce Willis, Samual L. Jackson, Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. In recent years, this lighthearted awards ceremony has been taped and presented on television by TNT, AMC and ABC.


During its first decade, the America Cinematheque Festival was held at the Directors Guild Theater and the Ralegh Studios Complex in Hollywood. In 1998, the American Cinematheque organization restored the famous Graumen’s Egyptian Theater which is the home of the first American film premier in 1922. Sid Grauman would go on to open the iconic Chinese Theater which the American Cinematheque organization also restored to it’s 1920’s glory so festival events could be held there. In 2004, the American Cinematheque organization restored the Santa Monica Astro Theater to its original glory from 1940 and began holding festival events there as well.


This year’s America Cinematheque awards ceremony was held in Los Angeles on November 10. Actress Amy Adams was honored with the award. The ceremony was held at the Beverly Hilton Ballroom. Amy Adams was introduced by her “Charlie Wilson’s War” costar Tom Hanks through a montage of film clicks and light hearted jokes about her rise in the industry including some jabs at the current sexual harassment issues in the Hollywood film industry. Several actors took the stage to share memories of working with Amy including Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Natalie Portman, Justin Timberlake and Chris Messina. A series of film clips were shown from films including “Doubt”, “Enchanted” and “American Hustle”. Amy shared a story about a conversation she had with her seven year old daughter who told her she loved film because she could explore her own imagination.

Another award presented this year was Sid Grauman Award. Grauman established one of Hollywood’s most famous landmarks, Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The award was presented by Christopher Nolan this year to IMAX chiefs Richard Gelfond and Greg Foster. The award highlighted the recent ambitious IMAX project for the film “Dunkirk”.

Photo via Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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