Sponsor Spotlight: Lauren Embrey and the Embrey Family Foundation
The Dallas Film Society and Dallas International Film Festival could not exist without its donors and sponsors, but many of these supporters are only known by their organization’ names. This series of posts is a chance to get to know the people behind those organizations and why they love and support film and filmmaking.We chatted with one of DFS sponsor’s leaders, Lauren Embrey. As President and CEO of The Embrey Family Foundation, an organization that cultivates human rights awareness and advances initiatives that challenge and embolden people to walk better in the world, Lauren Embrey and her team help DIFF by sponsoring the Silver Heart Award. The award is one of its kind on the festival circuit: it is given to a film for its dedication to fighting injustices and/or creating social change for the improvement of humanity.
Previous winners of the award include TOMLINSON HILL, THE INVISIBLE WAR and ZERO PERCENT. The 2014 DIFF Silver Heart winner, PRIVATE VIOLENCE, will premiere on HBO on Monday, October 20 in connection with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
DFS Senior Programmer Sarah Harris spoke with Embrey about her love of film and how it ties into human rights awareness.
SH: How long have you and the Embrey Family Foundation been involved with the Dallas Film Society?
EMBREY: I have been involved with the Dallas Film Society for 5 years and The Embrey Family Foundation has been involved through its sponsorship of the Silver Heart Award for 4 years.
SH: What is one of your favorite DFS or DIFF memories?
EMBREY: The first time I went to DIFF. I had been doing a bit of the Film Festival circuit: Toronto, Sundance and I went in thinking, “OK, they are really going to have to impress me” and they did! Over and above. I loved the programming, the energy and the attendance. So many directors and actors were there. The awards were a hit. It was all fabulous and I have been hooked ever since.
SH: Why do you love film?
EMBREY: I love film and filmmaking because I love storytelling and I love learning about other cultures and other peoples. Film inspires us, educates us and hits us at our core. I have gone to Bedouin camps in the Middle East, to the streets of Afghanistan, deep into Africa, to the seas off Japan and to the inner life of rural America. I would not have been able to do that without film. I am so grateful to film and to the filmmakers that have a vision and bring these stories to life for me. I am a more full and rounded person because of film.
SH: Do you have any favorite filmmakers?
EMBREY: I don’t have a single favorite, though as a group, my favorite filmmakers are documentarians because they find a story, a story that the world might never know and they bring it to us, sometimes at great risk to themselves. They are courageous and powerful. Documentarians ask questions, do research and bring cultures and issues to light. I work in the area of human rights and I am so grateful to them for their perseverance and vision. I am so much more knowledgeable due to the stories they tell.
SH: What film (narrative or documentary) has inspired you recently?
EMBREY: BOYHOOD because of the commitment it took, over all those decades, to bring this story to the screen. I also felt the transitions from boyhood on up to 20′s were flawless. I was so impressed with how the filmmaker accomplished that. I also loved it because it brought in the story and growth years of the sister. Girls and women are left out of so much in narrative film. I was happy to see the life of the mom and the sister be a full complement to the life of the boy. Now that is reality isn’t it!
SH: Do you have any human rights films that you would recommend to others?
EMBREY: I don’t have a top 3 list—I recommend ALL of them. They are enlightening and educational. They are sometimes disheartening and make your heart sink, but they always inform and engage. This is our world. We learn so much about other cultures and ways of life from them. They unleash our compassion, our passion and our desire to make change! Just start watching if you haven’t already, then let the things you care about blossom.
Thank you, Lauren, for your thoughts and for your continued support of DFS and filmmakers. Check back for more interviews with filmmakers, members and sponsors in the coming months.
DFS Members receive invitations to year-round films and events, reserved seats at screenings with our cultural partners and exclusive benefits at the Dallas International Film Festival.
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The 10th annual Dallas International Film Festival runs April 14-24, 2016.
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