And the Winner Is ... Milk

When director Stanley Kramer made Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, interracial marriage was still illegal in 16 states. Now his widow explains why she chose the similarly influential Milk to receive this year's Stanley Kramer Award.   

BY Greg Fieser

January 13 2009 1:00 AM ET

Stanley Kramer
was the renowned director and producer of such great films
as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Judgment at
Nuremberg, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,

and Inherit the Wind. He was also a great instigator
of social change and a champion for social consciousness.

Stanley passed
away in 2001, and his widow, Karen Kramer, a woman of
equally formidable intelligence and heart, keeps his legacy
alive by each year choosing the film to receive
the Stanley Kramer Award of the Producers Guild of
America. The qualities she looks for are simple -- the
recipient should be a film that embodies the strength,
compassion and social awareness that is
Stanley’s legacy.

This year Karen
Kramer has chosen Milk, the biopic about the
late gay San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk. In
this very busy awards season, Karen sat down with
Advocate.com to talk about Milk and why
selecting the film to receive the Stanley Kramer Award
was something of a no-brainer.

Advocate.com:Tell me about the Stanley Kramer Award and why
it’s so important.
Karen Kramer: I started the Stanley Kramer
Award in 2000 to celebrate films that promote social
consciousness. In the first year there really was no
one to give it to. It’s an area of film that
needs to be highlighted, but it’s not always an easy
job to find any that fit into that category.
Everything is so depressing these days. None of the
big films out right now are very uplifting. It’s a
sign of the times -- a reflection of
what’s going on. Maybe if we made more films
with a conscience and a happy ending more people would be
happy.

Why did you choose Milk to receive this award this year?Milk was the obvious choice for me. It was my
choice for the award even from just seeing the documentary
[The Times of Harvey Milk]. Of course, I saw all
the other films this year, but nothing was as worthy as Milk.

Why is this film so powerful?Milk dealt with Prop. 6 [a ballot measure that
sought to bar gay people from teaching in California
schools], but essentially it was talking about Prop. 8
[the state's anti-gay-marriage initiative]. It
epitomizes Stanley’s dedication to change. Stanley
fought for civil rights starting all the way back in
1947, and he would have definitely fought for gay
rights. This is a film Stanley would have made.
Milk needs to get recognized because of Prop.
8. The vote didn’t turn out the way we wanted. It
needs awards and it needs to be talked about -- now
more than ever. 

Tags: film

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