AFI Conservatory 2016 Commencement Celebrates New Filmmakers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — June 15, 2016, Los Angeles, CA — The American Film Institute (AFI) celebrated this year's 116 AFI Conservatory graduates — and the world's newest filmmakers — today at Hollywood's historic TCL Chinese Theatre. During Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2016, Doctorate of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa were conferred upon Rita Moreno (SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, WEST SIDE STORY) and Quentin Tarantino (THE HATEFUL EIGHT, PULP FICTION) for their "contribution of distinction to the art of the moving image." Actress/director/producer and AFI Trustee Eva Longoria (DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, DEVIOUS MAIDS) presented the honor to award-winning actress Moreno. Leading film scholar Elvis Mitchell presented the honor to his friend, celebrated director/writer/producer Tarantino.

Words of wisdom were shared by presenters and Honorary Degree recipients to the Class of 2016. As an Honorary Degree presenter, Longoria advised the graduates to use Moreno "as a guiding light to include as many viewpoints as possible…and to do it with fire and beauty and love as she does." Accepting the honor, Moreno sang "Dream (When You're Feeling Blue)" a capella and shared, "Never give up, and remember in order to have it all, you have to love it all." Together, Longoria and Moreno, two leading figures in entertainment, shared in sentiments that characterized the Commencement overall: new storytellers such as this year's Class of 2016 are primed to break the mold of stereotype and to use the art form to reflect the diversity of the entertainment community and of our world.

Mitchell presented the Honorary Degree to Tarantino, calling him "the boldest and baddest voice in American film" whose "passion for the art form is as explosive as nitrate." Tarantino, accepting his degree, told Fellows, "I challenge and implore you to do your best. Your best is to be part of the artistic conversation. Contribute to the conversation on art, film, television, multimedia, race, culture, America, the world," he said. "Every daisy chain that happens when you make your art is just another chance to be part of the conversation. We need you."

Moreno and Tarantino join an esteemed group of distinguished past Honorary Degree recipients, including Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Kathryn Bigelow, Mel Brooks, 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, Robert Towne, Cicely Tyson, Haskell Wexler and John Williams.

Downloadable photos are available here.

About Rita Moreno
One of only a handful of performers to have won all four major entertainment awards, the Emmy®, Grammy®, Oscar® and Tony®, collectively known as the coveted EGOT, actress Rita Moreno is perhaps best known for her iconic and acclaimed performance as Anita in WEST SIDE STORY. Spanning seven decades, her celebrated career as actress, singer, dancer and author has included widely varied roles across film, TV and stage — such as CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, JANE THE VIRGIN, THE KING AND I, THE MUPPET SHOW, HBO's OZ and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. Moreno is currently working on Netflix's ONE DAY AT TIME. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, the National Medal of Arts in 2010 and the Kennedy Center Honor in 2015.

About Quentin Tarantino
Director, screenwriter, producer and actor, Quentin Tarantino is a bold voice in American filmmaking — one whose work is often characterized by its stylized storytelling, dark comedy, eclectic soundtracks and fluency in the vocabulary of film history. He first commanded attention with 1992's RESERVOIR DOGS and earned a Best Screenplay Oscar® for PULP FICTION — a film which ranks among AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies list of the greatest American movies of all time — and for which Tarantino was also nominated for Best Director. He has continued to gain a loyal following with his master classics like DJANGO UNCHAINED, THE HATEFUL EIGHT — the director's bloody valentine to 70mm cinema, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and KILL BILL: VOL. 1 and KILL BILL: VOL. 2.

About the AFI Conservatory

The AFI Conservatory offers a two-year Master of Fine Arts 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. Within the Conservatory is also a unique training program, the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women (DWW). AFI Conservatory's alumni have been consistently recognized with all of the major industry awards — Academy Awards®, Emmy® Awards, guild awards — as well as the Tony Awards®. Esteemed director, producer and screenwriter James L. Brooks serves as Artistic Director of the AFI Conservatory where he provides creative leadership for the elite film program. Proud supporters of the AFI Conservatory are American Airlines, the official airline of AFI and VIZIO, the official home theater sponsor of AFI.  

About the American Film Institute
AFI is America's promise to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI programs include the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive, which preserve film heritage for future generations; the AFI Life Achievement Award, the highest honor for a career in film; AFI AWARDS, honoring the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year; AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists, which have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers; year-round and special event exhibition through AFI FEST presented by Audi, AFI DOCS and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world-renowned AFI Conservatory. For more information about AFI, visit or connect with AFI at, and


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