Publisher's Letter -- Michael J. Klingensmith discusses the American Film Institute

By Michael J. Klingensmith
Updated September 10, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

Our readers love movies as much as we do. That affection is one reason Entertainment Weekly is so proud of its affiliation with and support of The American Film Institute.

Since its founding in 1965, AFI has done a truly extraordinary job of establishing the importance of preserving and extending the great heritage of the moving image. Often, preservation has been accomplished in difficult circumstances — and just in the nick of time. While great films may remain forever clear and vivid in our memories, reality is not so kind. Film is a surprisingly fragile medium, and the remarkable work of our finest actors and directors is constantly threatened by neglect and decay.

The American Film Institute continues to help rescue the classics. While you may not be entirely familiar with the name of this not-for-profit organization, you’ve almost certainly enjoyed the results of its work. By opening its recent Los Angeles International Film Festival with a stunning screening of 1961’s El Cid, AFI was able to present another restored American film classic to a new audience. Through the help of AFI, Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus, and Lost Horizon are among thousands of films and television programs that have been saved for the pleasure of millions of future viewers.

Preserving our film, television, and video heritage is a cornerstone of AFI’s goals, but it is not the only objective. The institute also supports the art of the moving image by nurturing and training new talent, including women and minorities, thereby helping to ensure that the next generation of film artists reflects the diversity of American society. Since 1969, nearly 2,000 graduates of the Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies have entered the industry.

And there are many other important facets of The American Film Institute: workshops for writers and internships for editors; seminars exploring new technology; the AFI film catalog and computerized data bases; the AFI National Film Theater in Washington, D.C.; and of course, the institute’s annual Life Achievement Award, which over the past 21 years has been given to such screen luminaries as Orson Welles, Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Frank Capra, Gregory Peck, Sidney Poitier, and, most recently, Elizabeth Taylor.

We at Entertainment Weekly will continue to do what we can to help AFI fulfill its mandate. And if you would like to join us, I hope you will consider making a contribution directly to: The American Film Institute, 2021 North Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027, or call 800-774-4234. It’s the best way to brighten the picture for film lovers today, and for generations to come.