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Jack Valenti "A Friend of the Fight" to be honoured at Aids Film Fest

The New York AIDS Film Festival will dedicate the 2007 NY AIDS FILM FESTIVAL to the life of Mr. Jack Valenti. A supporter of the festival and 2004 Honoree, former President of the MPAA and head of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Valenti was a kind supporter of their work and the fest will celebrate his life. The Festival will open at the United Nations with a moment to honor the former Hollywood luminary and lobbyist, and will continue to give the Jack Valenti award to members of the entertainment industry who fight for the hault and eradication of HIV/AIDS. 2006 Valenti Recipient was President of MTV International BILL ROEDY for his work with MTV STAYING ALIVE FOUNDATION. For more information
Suzanne Engo the festivals executive director said “I first met Mr. Valenti when I was responsible for video taping him speaking at NYU where I graduated from film school, he was speaking about copyright and the film industry, he was filled with passion, and years later I saw that same passion when he spoke about the AIDS pandemic. As a film producer and an AIDS activist, he remains in my eyes, the ultimate role model for the power of the media as a tool for social change…… I can’t imagine WORLD AIDS DAY passing without acknowledging such a giant and friend of the fight against HIV/AIDS cinematically”

Jack Valenti, the White House insider who became a legendary lobbyist for the movie industry, died recently - and some of the obituaries have missed an important contribution Jack made in his later years. For the past three years, Valenti was President of the Friends of the Global Fight, a Washington-based organization that works to build awareness about public policies to support the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria. (Friends of the Global Fight was founded by Ed Scott, who also co-founded CGD. Ed is Chairman of the Board of both organizations.)
In his role as President of Friends, Valenti applied his finely honed skills of persuasion - very well described by the Washington Post's Paul Farhi - to convincing legislators on Capitol Hill to pay attention to crucial health challenges in the developing world. Development policy rarely gets this brand of glamour and charisma; he was able to open doors that had slammed shut on others. Very recently, it was the work of Valenti (among others) that led to the increase in US contributions to the Global Fund and PEPFAR. As for why an 85-year-old would choose the daily grind of meetings and briefing papers over the lure of leisure, here's what Valenti had to say: "Retirement to me is a synonym for decay.
The idea of just knocking about, playing golf or whatever, is so unattractive to me that I would rather be nibbled to death by ducks. So long as I am doing what I choose to do and love to do, work is not work but total fun." ( RuthB)
A decorated veteran, established writer, and longtime president and Chief Executive Officer of the Motion Picture Association of America, Jack Valenti is, among many other things, the man primarily responsible with the now-familiar ratings system which dominates the American movie marketplace. A native of Houston, TX, at age 15, Valenti became the youngest graduate of the city's high school and soon went to work for the Humble Oil Company (which would eventually become Exxon).
Soon taking to the skies in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Valenti flew over 50 combat missions as the pilot and commander of a B-25 bomber and was honored with numerous decorations including a Distinguished Flying Cross and an Air Medal with four clusters. Returning to the U.S. to get his B.A. from the University of Houston, the tireless Valenti pounded the books by night while simultaneously holding down a day job. Following his graduation from Harvard with an M.B.A. a few short years later, Valenti ventured into business by co-founding Weekley and Valenti, an advertising/political consulting agency. A fateful meeting with then U.S. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson found Valenti establishing a tie that would ultimately have a profound impact on his life, as Weekly and Valenti was in charge of the press during the tenure of President John F. Kennedy. Riding along with the presidential motorcade on that fateful day in Dallas on November 22, 1963, Valenti was quickly appointed the first newly appointed special assistant to President Johnson after President Kennedy's assassination. It was three short years later that Valenti would resign from the post and become only the third man ever in charge of the association that he would ultimately become most recognized for, the M.P.A.A.

As the president of the M.P.A.A., Valenti rallied for a new, voluntary motion-picture ratings system that would provide parents with an indicator of a film's content. Following on the heels of the Hayes Code, the simple ratings of "G" (General Audiences), "M" (Mature Audiences), "R" (Restricted, persons under 16 [later 17] not admitted unless accompanied by an adult), and "X" (No one under 17 admitted) were implicated in 1968. Though over the years the ratings would occasionally experience slight changes ("M" would eventually become "PG" and "X" would become "NC-17" in an attempt to reclaim artistic merit from the former's association with pornography) and a few additions ("PG-13" was implicated in 1984 as a means of indicating a more intense subject matter meant for older teens), the basic concept remained intact.

A specially assigned board of unknown individuals vote on a rating after viewing a certain film; the filmmakers are subsequently given the opportunity to appeal the rating if they feel it is unfair. Films released either without M.P.A.A. approval ("NR") or with the "NC-17" rating often find trouble with distribution as many large theater chains and rental outlets refuse to advertise or carry these films of more questionable or controversial content. Later years would find numerous challenges aimed at the M.P.A.A. with claims of major studio releases getting preferential treatment over smaller independent films. Nevertheless, Valenti and the M.P.A.A. continued to expand their ratings system to television and seek ways to adapt it to new technologies in addition to combating piracy. After receiving his doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, Valenti was also given his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in addition to being named a Life Member of the Director's Guild of America. In addition to his four books, Valenti's numerous essays have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Reader's Digest, and Newsweek. Valenti died in April of 2007 after suffering a stroke earlier in the year. “ ALL MOVIE GUIDE”

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