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VOL. 127 | NO. 90 | Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Luncheon To Honor’s City’s Cinematic Stars

By Aisling Maki

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Film director Craig Brewer, “Undefeated” star Bill Courtney, and Memphis and Shelby County Film and Television Commissioner Linn Sitler are among those who’ll be honored Wednesday, May 9, as Carnival Memphis salutes the Mid-South’s movie and film industry during its annual Business & Industry Salute Luncheon.

Carnival Memphis is a nonprofit founded in 1931 to support, enhance and promote the commerce and culture of Memphis and the Mid-South. Each year the Business & Industry Salute Luncheon recognizes community leaders and businesses that help make Memphis a great place to live and work.

This year’s luncheon, which will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday the Hilton Memphis, 939 Ridge Lake Blvd., is part of the organization’s 81st anniversary celebration.

Each year a Carnival king is chosen, and this year’s king is Michael Lightman Sr. Although he works in the real estate industry, Lightman has roots in the movie business; his family founded Malco Theatres Inc.

“This year’s going to be really different,” said Ed Galfsky, executive director of Carnival Memphis. “The fact that it’s the movie and film industry lets us showcase a lot of the great films that were made in Memphis. Michael’s speech is going to have some video aspects to it that we’ve never done before. It’s a really neat industry and it’s important to the community. It’s something the people involved in are very passionate about.”

For that reason, Carnival Memphis chose to spotlight the region’s movie and film industry, choosing to honor nine companies and six individuals, each selected based on their success and commitment to their region’s industry and community.

The 2012 Cook Halle Award for outstanding contribution to the Mid-South community will acknowledge the almost century-old Malco Theatres, a fourth-generation private company and the 11th largest movie circuit in the nation.

Malco president Stephen Lightman and executive vice presidents Robert Levy and Jimmy Tashie will be honored. All three men have not only been involved in the industry as the largest film exhibitor in the area, but have supported, promoted and helped numerous independent filmmakers throughout the Mid-South.

The King’s Award this year will honor the 2012 Academy Award-winning documentary “Undefeated,” which tells the story of former volunteer football coach Bill Courtney and the young men he mentored during the 2009 Manassas High School football season. The film’s critical success has made Courtney a sought-after national public speaker.

Linn Sitler will receive the 2012 recipient of the President’s Award for her more than 25 years of diligent work to bring Hollywood to Memphis. During her tenure, Memphis-made feature films have included “The Firm,” “Walk the Line,” “Hustle and Flow” and “The Grace Card.” Sitler has also been a tireless supporter of independent films and the local festivals that promote them.

The Chairman’s Award this year will go to Craig Brewer, whose 2005 breakthrough movie “Hustle and Flow” garnered national critical acclaim. Since then, Brewer has written and directed the Memphis-filmed “Black Snake Moan,” re-made “Footloose,” and is currently writing the new “Tarzan” movie.

“A lot of people want to make this work and do this for a living, but this guy has really made it,” Galfsky said. “He’s had some pretty incredible success.”

Galfsky said Brewer will not be in town to accept his award but is expected to make a video acceptance speech.

Businesses and organizations saluted this year are: The William Bearden Co.; Commercial Appeal film critic John Beifuss; Dean Film & Video; Graceworks Pictures; Heritage Entertainment Group; Indie Memphis Film Festival; On Location: Memphis Film Festival; The Orpheum Theatre; and the Film & Video program in the Department of Communications at The University of Memphis.

Luncheon proceeds will benefit Carnival Memphis’ 2012 chosen children’s charities: Jubilee Schools, School Advocates for Education (SAVE) and Boy Scouts ScoutReach Program, which brings scouting to inner-city areas where it doesn’t traditionally exist.

“In 1999, Carnival Memphis started a children’s charity initiative focused on three different local children’s charities,” Galfsky said. “They’re different every year, and none of these three have ever been selected before.

Since 1999, Carnival Memphis has raised more than $1.3 million for local children’s charities.

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