BEVERLY HILLS — Amidst the light-hearted hysterics and even occasional ribaldry on display at the packed 65th American Cinema Editors (ACE) Awards Dinner on January 30 (actor Jeff Garlin’s presenting shtick in a bathrobe and his underwear had to be seen to be believed), the people and the projects honored illustrated, among other things, how the role of the craft of editing has evolved and risen to a new and even more important level of importance on the modern media landscape. This theme was promoted when the ACE Eddie Award was handed out in the category of Best Edited Feature Documentary to editor Mathilde Bonnefoy for her work on the controversial documentary Citizenfour, about filmmaker Laura Poitras’ face-to-face meetings with government whistle-blower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong.
As Bonnefoy explained in her acceptance speech, from an editing point of view, the nature of the material and the way events were unfolding required her to collaborate with Poitras to cut together footage of events that were still unfolding, and make artistic decisions about how that cutting process would impact audiences and potentially the actual events themselves.
“Editing of this film was nothing I ever experienced before,” she told the crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. “We had already edited a big part of the film [about domestic surveillance generally] when Edward Snowden contacted Laura Poitras, the director, to reveal [the National Security Agency’s surveillance program to her]. And then, when she went to Hong Kong to meet him, and came back with this extraordinary footage, we basically had a new film, and we had to start from scratch. What we did from there on was integrate — as they were happening — historic events unfolding at the time of our work. So this was one of the moments when I realized how important art is for us humans, because basically we were integrating, translating into art real events happening around us. And in doing so, in translating them into art, what we were doing was to make sense of them for ourselves, but also for an audience.”
Likewise, Sandra Adair, ACE (pictured, left), was honored by her peers for tackling a particularly unusual editing job with the Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film, Dramatic, for her work on Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age story, Boyhood. Her task was to partner with Linklater over the course of 12 years to literally shape a story of a boy’s maturation from early school until he departs for college, since the director opted to write, film, and edit the piece literally as the actual actors aged in realtime over those 12 years.
Backstage, just prior to seeing Adair receive her Eddie Award, Linklater told Post that her role far exceeded that of traditional editor, so much so that he insisted she also take a co-producer credit. Linklater would shoot new material for the next stage of the story for several days each year, and then the two of them would return to the story in the editing room after a year away from it to not only edit the material he had just shot, but also to revisit material from previous years, and to help him plan out what he wanted to write and execute in production for the coming year.
“She helped me, in a way like therapy,” Linklater explains. “We were sitting there in the editing room, looking at footage, and it was like, ‘Well, what does this material mean for next year?’” he explains. “We would actually discuss the story as it was being written and shot, which you wouldn’t normally get to do. Normally, [all the footage] is done and, in the editing room, you are dealing with what was shot. But 12 times, we got to discuss the story as it was being written and shot, and that was a wonderful way to work. Plus, we could be editing in year 11 and still be shaping or re-shaping years one and two, dropping or adding things. So she helped me make a lifetime sculpture. It was almost beyond editing. If you add it all up, I think we spent something like a year and a half together in the editing room. It was quite special.”
Barney Pilling captured the ACE Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film, Comedy or Musical, for his efforts on Wes Anderson’s witty and stylized period comedy, The Grand Budapest Hotel. He also spoke backstage with Michael Goldman about some of the challenges involved in editing that piece, particularly given the razor-sharp nature of the film’s dialogue.
That challenge, Pilling (pictured, left) says, required him to walk a particularly fine line in handling dialogue scenes “to keep the dialogue underneath the radar of the ridiculous” in order to properly “deliver the comedy and the pathos in the script.” To hear Pilling explain more about his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel during his conversation with Post backstage during the event, click HERE.
Meanwhile, the role of editing in influencing filmmakers at all levels —indeed, the entire industry — was further hammered home by one of the evening’s honorary award winners, particularly producer/director Frank Marshall, who was presented with the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award by actor Chris Pratt for his contributions to the editing community. In a moving speech about the key role editing plays in filmmaking, and from his point of view, the key role editing and editors played in shaping his career, Marshall declared, “the editor is the closer, and he or she ends up having the final impact on what ends up on the screen.”
He also insisted that “the movie doesn’t get great until it gets to the cutting room,” as he relayed personal tales of how legendary editors Verna Fields and Michael Kahn, ACE, played important mentoring roles in his career —Fields while he was learning his craft working for filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, and Kahn when he directed his first film Arachnophobia (1990). To hear Marshall describe the impact of those two relationships on his career during his acceptance speech at the ACE Awards event on January 30, click HERE
Career Achievement awards were presented to veteran editors Jerry Greenberg, ACE, and Diane Adler, ACE, and the other honorary award, the Robert Wise Award, was given to journalist Carolyn Giardina.
Here is a complete rundown of the 2015 ACE Eddie Award winners:
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (DRAMATIC):
Boyhood - Sandra Adair, ACE
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (COMEDY OR MUSICAL):
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Barney Pilling
BEST EDITED ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:
Lego Movie - David Burrows & Chris McKay
BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE):
Citizenfour - Mathilde Bonnefoy
BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY (TELEVISION):
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History: Episode 3 / The Fire of Life - Erik Ewers
BEST EDITED HALF-HOUR SERIES FOR TELEVISION:
Veep: “Special Relationship” - Anthony Boys
BEST EDITED ONE-HOUR SERIES FOR COMMERCIAL TELEVISION:
Sherlock: “His Last Vow” - Yan Miles
BEST EDITED ONE-HOUR SERIES FOR NON-COMMERCIAL TELEVISION:
True Detective: “Who Goes There” - Affonso Gonçalves
BEST EDITED MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE FOR TELEVISION:
The Normal Heart - Adam Penn
BEST EDITED NON-SCRIPTED SERIES:
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Iran - Hunter Gross
BEST STUDENT EDITING
Johnny Sepulveda (Video Symphony)