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Industry Professionals Killed While Covering War In Ukraine, Top-Grossing Films Showcase Diversity, The War In Ukraine’s Impact on Hollywood, Halle Berry’s Impactful Speech, Awards Recap, William Hurt Remembered 

Filmmaker and Journalist Brent Renaud and veteran cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski were killed this week while covering the war in Ukraine, top-grossing films showcase some improvement in diversity, Hollywood  facing a big impact as a result of Putin’s choice to go to war, Halle Berry makes a powerful speech at the Critics Choice Awards, winners announced for the 2022 Critics Choice Awards, DGA, BAFTA and Annie Awards, and William Hurt is remembered. 

By Lauren Cali 
March 17, 2022 

Industry Professionals Killed While Covering War In Ukraine

According to authorities, Documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud was killed this week when Russian troops opened fire at a checkpoint. Renaud’s death is the first U.S Journalist since the start of the invasion- Deadline reports

Renaud worked for The New York Times, but wasn’t on assignment when he was killed. A spokeswoman said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of Brent Renaud’s death. Brent was a talented filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years.”

Renaud’s most recent project was collaborating on a Time Studios project focused on the global refugee crisis with production companies Sugar23 and Day Zero Productions. “Brent dedicated his life to seeking the truth and sharing humanistic portraits and narratives from those experiences in some of the most dangerous hot spots in the world. Our deepest sympathy is extended to all of Brent’s loved ones.” said Sugar23 partners Michael Sugar and Ashley Zalta. 

Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrewski was also killed when his vehicle came under attack in Ukraine this week- The New York Times reports . Pierre had been covering the war in Ukraine since February. Suzanne Scott, the chief executive of Fox News Media said: 

“Pierre was a war zone photographer who covered nearly every international story for Fox News from Iraq to Afghanistan to Syria during his long tenure with us. His talents were vast and there wasn’t a role that he didn’t jump in to help with in the field — from photographer to engineer to editor to producer — and he did it all under immense pressure with tremendous skill. He was profoundly committed to telling the story and his bravery, professionalism and work ethic were renowned among journalists at every media outlet.”

Top-Grossing Films Showcase Diversity  

USC Annenberg's Inclusion Initiative released a new study that revealed that women and actors of color made small gains as the leads of the top-grossing films in 2021- The Wrap reports

41% of the top-grossing movies in 2021 had a female lead or co-lead. In 2007, that number was 20%, and in 2020, 36%. In spite of these gains, the presentation of women as leads isn’t up to par. Stacy L. Smith said: 

“The advocacy and activism surrounding girls and women on screen in films has been at a fever pitch for more than 10 years. While the industry reckons with the fallout of the pandemic and the evolving theatrical market, decision-makers must be wary that the progress they have made can stagnate or even reverse.”

32% of movies in 2021 had a lead or co-lead from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. In 2007, that number was 13%, and in 2020 it rose to 28%. Katherine L. Neff, lead author of the study said: 

“We cannot underestimate the positive impact these 32 movies can have on young audiences of color. To be able to see yourself on screen, and to see yourself and people that look like you as the hero or leader in a variety of different films was not an option when I was younger. People of color deserve to be at the heart of storytelling.”

The study also studied the impact of age. In 2021, only 7 films featured women at mid-life (45 years) and older. Stacy L. Smith said: 
“It is clear that the industry still believes women have a ‘sell-by’ date in film. The lack of stories about women age 45 and older demonstrates the industry’s regard for women in this age bracket. Additionally, women of color age 45 and older are invisible in leading roles. What does this convey to audiences about the power and strength of women in mid-life and beyond?”

The War In Ukraine’s Impact on Hollywood

The war in Ukraine has had a large impact on those in Hollywood according to Deadline . One Oscar-nominated director said “The sheer drama of Ukraine has disrupted my life. I have discarded my next film to find a story that deals with these events. Everything else seems too small.”

A Hollywood studio executive said, “The Ukraine story will have a dominant influence on our stories and how we tell them for decades. This is a milestone event in our history. We can’t yet recognize that since we’re in the middle of it.”

Hollywood’s protest to the war has also included major studios stopping movie releases in Russia and multiple actors and actresses speaking out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine at awards shows. 

Halle Berry’s Impactful Speech

Oscar winning actress Halle Berry received the SeeHer award at the Critics Choice Awards. This award recognizes a woman who pushes boundaries and defies stereotypes. Berry’s 30 year career includes blazing trails as an actress, Producer and most recently Director. A few words from her inspiring speech: 

“This is why I am so grateful to be standing and living in this moment where women are standing up and we are telling our own stories…We will write, we will produce, we will direct, and if we’re brave enough, will star in it all at the same time. We will use our emotional intelligence and we will tell stories that don’t fit preconceived notions.”

You can watch Berry’s full speech here

Awards Recap
Multiple awards shows occured this weekend:

At the Critics Choice Awards, one speech stood empassioned commentary about Ukraine, and the other for talking about the need for social change. 

Presenter Maria Bakalova’s advocacy and support of Ukraine was apparent:
 “We all can agree that what’s going on is insane and crazy and just heartbreaking. I am Eastern European. My country and hometown are just a few miles away from Ukraine. I truly support them. I see all the Ukrainian fighters— their bravery, their resilience. All they’re doing is defending their independence and democracy, which is crucial for every single nation. The right to vote, the right to choose your government—even people from Russia.” Her full speech can be found here

Michael Keaton, who won Best Actor in a limited series used his platform to advocate for social change: 
“There’s only one way to change things, environmental, socially, racial justice and social justice — two words: voting rights. Voting rights and voter suppression.” 

The full list of winners for the Critics Choice Awards can be found here

Benedict Cumberbatch and Stephen Graham decried the war in Ukraine at the BAFTA Film Awards- Variety reports , amongst others. Benedict said, “It’s more now for all of us to do than just have thoughts and prayers. We need to act…we need to see what we can do as citizens of the world.”

The full list of winners for the BAFTA Film Awards can be found here

The full list of winners for the DGA Awards can be found here

The full list of winners for the Annie Awards can be found here

In Memoriam 

Actor William Hurt passed away on March 13th. Well known for his Oscar winning performance in Kiss of the Spider Woman , he also starred as Thaddeus Ross in 5 Marvel films. He is remembered by his colleagues here

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Lauren Cali writes the weekly entertainment industry news blog for She’s a Social Media Specialist and a graduate of Elmhurst College.