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"Monster" Writer/Director Honored by AFI

By

Charlize Theron Patty Jenkins Monster

Charlize Theron and Director Patty Jenkins on the set of "Monster"

Photo © Newmarket Films
LOS ANGELES, June 7, 2004 - The American Film Institute (AFI) today announced that screenwriter/director Patty Jenkins, who graduated from the AFI Conservatory in 2000, will receive the 2004 Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal. The Medal will be presented at the AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute to Meryl Streep on June 10, 2004, which will be held at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland.

The Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal recognizes the extraordinary creative talents of a graduate of the AFI Conservatory or of the Directing Workshop for Women who symbolizes the legacy of Franklin Schaffner. Established in 1991 by Franklin J. Schaffner's widow, Jean, the Alumni Medal celebrates the qualities associated with the late director: talent, taste, dedication and commitment to quality filmmaking. Over the course of a remarkable 40-year career, Schaffner earned a total of 28 Academy Award nominations and the Directing Oscar for "Patton" in 1970. Schaffner's association with AFI began in 1975, with his election to the Board of Trustees, and lasted until his death in 1989.

Jean Picker Firstenberg commented, "We are extraordinarily proud of Patty. In less than three years after graduation, she fulfilled her creative vision, defied odds and remained committed to a deep sense of integrity while making 'Monster.' Her story as a filmmaker serves as inspiration to so many studying and training in this art form."

Patty Jenkins accidentally landed her first job in film at the age of 14 when she received a summer internship as assistant to Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs on the beat documentary "The River City Reunion." Later, while classically training as a painter at The Cooper Union in New York City, she crossed over to filmmaking and graduated with a series of short films that premiered at a full-house showcase. After graduation, she became a Union First Assistant Camera person and during the next five years worked on hundreds of commercials, films and music videos with such directors as Dominic Sena, Tarsem Singh, Ted Demme and Wayne Isham, as well as rising star Brett Ratner, who went on to become her mentor and the executive producer on her last short film. In 2000, Jenkins graduated from AFI's Directing program, where she made three short films, including "Velocity Rules" - an official selection at AFI FEST 2001.

Thanks to her film's presence at AFI FEST, Jenkins met producer/manager Brad Wyman and started thinking about Aileen Wuornos, the first female serial killer, soon to be executed in the state of Florida. Jenkins went on to write Wuornos' story as a screenplay and convinced Charlize Theron to play the role of a lifetime. Still, raising production funding was almost impossible. Wyman eventually secured financing and they shot for 28 days in Florida. "Monster's" first screening was at Closing Night for AFI FEST 2003, two years after Jenkins' thesis film was screened.

"Monster" was named Best First Feature by the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards, was selected as one of the 10 best films by AFI AWARDS 2003, and Roger Ebert named "Monster" the best film of the year. Theron received a Golden Globe, an Independent Spirit Award and the Oscar for Best Actress.

PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE

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