Jodie Foster and Dean Tavoularis Receive AFI Conservatory Honorary Degrees

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American Film Institute (AFI) celebrated this year's AFI Conservatory graduates, and newest filmmakers, at Hollywood's historic TCL Chinese Theatre with Honorary degrees conferred upon Academy Award®-winning actor/director Jodie Foster and Academy Award®-winning production designer Dean Tavoularis.

Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa were conferred upon Academy Award®-winning actor/director Jodie Foster and Academy Award®-winning production designer Dean Tavoularis for their "contribution of distinction to the art of the moving image."


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Oscar®-nominated editor and AFI Conservatory faculty member Matt Chessé presented the honor to Foster, with whom he collaborated on her film Money Monster (2016). Oscar®-nominated director/writer/producer Nancy Meyers presented the honor to Tavoularis, who designed her film The Parent Trap (1998).

Presenting the degree to Tavoularis, Meyers recalled their collaboration, saying, "Dean is a man of few words, but endless ideas." In his speech, Tavoularis said that he shares the honor with all production designers, and told the Class of 2018, "You have not made a mistake in choosing this profession. You are all going to have a wonderful life."


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Presenting the degree to Foster, Chessé performed a song he wrote in tribute to her life and work, before describing her as "an artist through and through, an American icon who stands tall for all artists for all time." Foster told the graduating class, "We need you to come into this world with all of your passion, trust, willingness and creativity, ready to go out there and do something meaningful and true."

Foster and Tavoularis join an esteemed group of distinguished past Honorary Degree recipients, including Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Saul Bass, Kathryn Bigelow, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, Anne V. Coates, Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, Nora Ephron, James Earl Jones, Lawrence Kasdan, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Angela Lansbury, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, David Lynch, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Towne, Cicely Tyson, Haskell Wexler and John Williams and many ohers.

About Jodie Foster 
Actor, director, producer and icon Jodie Foster has more than 100 screen credits to her name, including Academy Award® nominations for Taxi Driver (1976) and Nell (1994), and Academy Award® wins for The Accused (1988) and The Silence Of The Lambs (1991). As an actress, additional work includes Tom Sawyer (1973), Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), Bugsy  Malone (1976), Freaky Friday (1976), Foxes (1980), Maverick (1994), Contact (1997), Panic  Room (2002), Inside Man (2006), The Brave One (2007), Carnage (2011), Elysium (2013) and Hotel Artemis (2018). Her work as a director and producer includes the films Little Man  Tate (1991), Home For The Holidays (1995), The Beaver (2011) and Money Monster (2016), and episodes of TV series Black Mirror, House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.

About Dean Tavoularis
Dean Tavoularis' work with Francis Ford Coppola defines his exemplary career as a production designer. Their partnership began with The Godfather (1972), followed by The Conversation (1974) and The Godfather Part Ii (1974), which earned Tavoularis the Academy Award® for Best Art Direction. His work continued with Coppola on Apocalypse Now (1979), Tucker: The Man And His Dream (1988) and The Godfather Part III (1990) — all of which earned Tavoularis Oscar® nominations — as well as One From The Heart (1981), The  Outsiders (1983), Rumble Fish (1983) and Peggy Sue Got Married (1986). Tavoularis also received an Oscar® nomination for William Friedkin's The Brink's Job (1978). He received the prestigious Art Directors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

About the AFI Conservatory
The AFI Conservatory has been named the #1 film school in the world. In 1969, the AFI Conservatory opened its doors to an inaugural class that included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel and Paul Schrader. Today, the AFI Conservatory offers a two-year MFA degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. Aspiring artists learn from the masters in a collaborative, hands-on production environment with an emphasis on storytelling. Alumni of this elite program include Andrea Arnold, Darren Aronofsky, Julie Dash, Steve Golin, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kamiński, David Lynch, Melina Matsoukas and Robert Richardson, among others.

About the American Film Institute
The American Film Institute was established by presidential proclamation in the White House Rose Garden, and launched its national mandate on June 5, 1967 — to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI's founding Trustees included Chairman Gregory Peck, Vice Chairman Sidney Poitier, Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Jack Valenti and George Stevens, Jr., as Director.

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