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.