Monday, September 22, 2008

Toon Talk: Disney Goes to the American Film Institute

"To the movies ... to good movies ... of every possible kind."

The quote above was spoken by none other than legendary film director-actor-writer-producer Orson Welles upon his acceptance of the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award in 1975, and it perfectly describes what the AFI is all about; established in 1967 by the National Endowment for the Arts when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation of the Arts and the Humanities Act, the AFI is an independent, non-profit organization created, in part, to recognize and celebrate excellence in the art of film.

Among the methods they use to fulfill this mission statement is the previously mentioned Life Achievement Award, which began in 1973 and has since become the highest honor for a career in film. In 1998, the 100th anniversary of American film, AFI began its AFI's 100 Years … series, a popular and often controversial annual television special that has nevertheless accomplished what it set out to do: increase modern interest in classic American movies. And the AFI Awards, established in 2000, is described as the “annual almanac for the 21st century”, honoring the most outstanding motion pictures of the year.

This year’s 100 Years … program, AFI’ 10 Top 10 (which aired in June on CBS and will be rebroadcast this Tuesday on AMC and again on November 28 on AMC) was dedicated to counting down "the ten greatest American movies in ten classic film genres", including animation. As expected, Disney dominated the category, with nine out of the final top ten movies, which thus inspired me to take a look back at how Disney has fared over the years when it comes to being recognized by the AFI.

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