Award-winning Hugh Hefner doc gets NAACP Image Award nom
Misani | , Special to AmNews | 1/3/2012, 2:22 p.m.
"It happened in quite an unusual way. The NAACP heard about the film, and that it qualified, so they contacted to me and asked me if it could be submitted...and I submitted it." Academy Award-winning Canadian director Brigitte Berman continues her story, "Later, they wanted to hold a screening of the film in December and I said 'sure,' and sent them the print. Then, to my great surprise, on January 12 I found out that it was nominated! I was thrilled," said Berman, who had recently arrived in Los Angeles from Toronto to attend the NAACP Image Award nominees' luncheon.
The film that Berman is speaking about is her internationally acclaimed documentary "Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel," (Metaphor Films, 2010), which was nominated in the Outstanding Documentary (Theatrical or Television) category for the 42nd NAACP Image Awards. The awards show will air live on Fox TV on March 4 at 8 (7 Central).
Singled out for numerous accolades, "Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel" has garnered rave reviews and an impressive sequence of Official Selection designations at a number of major international film festivals, including the Toronto, Zurich, Melbourne and Sao Paolo festivals.
The widely discussed documentary focuses on Hefner's "other side," that of his social activism and insightful influence on American society, including his groundbreaking work in the civil rights arena. Through archival footage, Berman's film reveals Hefner doing his part in the thick of the struggle for equality and justice with such distinguished human rights advocates as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Alex Haley, Jim Brown and Dick Gregory.
Commenting on Hefner, the activist/humanitarian man behind the iconic playboy image, Berman said, "What is as big and as important and as strong in his own psyche is the rebel, the activist--the person who fights for what he believes in, and who, when he sees something is wrong, does something about it." Berman pointed out that Hefner used a variety of ways to combat these wrongs, including through his legal team, his TV show and interviews in Playboy magazine, as well as getting personally involved.
"He really believed in a world of freedom where people could speak and say what they want and not be censored, where people were not prejudiced against because of their color or because of something they did. He just believed in human rights and didn't just give lip service to that, but actually put money where his mouth is," disclosed Berman, who observed that Hefner lived by the philosophy that "people are people. It didn't matter whether they were Black or white. The color of their skin was irrelevant. He looked at the inside of them and who they were, and he didn't just say it, but did it."
Among various examples Berman cited was Alex Haley, the African-American historian and author. "Alex Haley began his career at Playboy as chief interviewer for the magazine," she pointed out. "His groundbreaking interviews with Nazi leader Lincoln Rockwell and human rights activist Malcolm X eventually led to him writing 'Roots,' one of the most important, groundbreaking books about African-American history. The book was first serialized in Playboy." One very special moment depicted in the film's archival footage portrays Hefner and Haley reflecting upon their working relationship."