AFI celebrated this year’s 123 AFI Conservatory graduates — and the world’s newest filmmakers — Monday, June 11, at Hollywood’s historic TCL Chinese Theatre. During Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2018, 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.”
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.”
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. See the full list here.
Pictured at top: AFI Conservatory Class of 2018