James Cameron to host tribute to Stan Winston

A screening of “The Terminator” will follow the Saturday fundraising tribute to the guru of special effects.

By Olivia Damavandi / Staff Writer

Following its jam-packed debut screening of “Some Like It Hot” two weeks ago, The Malibu Film Society on Saturday will show the 1984 blockbuster “The Terminator,” with director James Cameron on hand to introduce the film.

“The Terminator” raised the bar for modern-day science fiction films and cemented the action hero status of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, none of which could have occurred without the talent of the late Academy Award-winning makeup, creature and visual effects artist Stan Winston. The screening will be preceded by a fundraising tribute in his honor.

Winston, who died June 15 at the age of 62 at his Malibu home, received nine Academy Award nominations and won four-in both makeup and visual effects categories for “Heartbeeps,” “Aliens,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Jurassic Park” (for which he created full-scale animatronic dinosaurs). In a career that spanned four decades, Winston also worked extensively in television, and earned five Emmy nominations from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, winning for “Gargoyles” and “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.”

“But ‘Terminator’ really put him on the map in terms of someone doing things never done before in special effects,” said Stan Winston’s son Matt Winston, a professional actor. “What the film did was put Hollywood on notice that there was a special effects guy out there who could tackle large scale animatronics (animatronics is the use of electronics and robotics in mechanized puppets to make them appear to be alive).

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“Jim Cameron had intended to do full endoskeleton motion sequences with stop motion, and my dad convinced him that he could do them full size, live action,” Matt explained. “Jim took my dad at his word, and that’s what they did. It was revolutionary.”

Followed by three sequels directed and co-written by Cameron, “The Terminator” features Arnold Schwarzenegger as the title character, Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese. The film takes place in 1984 and introduces the concept of a “terminator,” a seemingly immortal cyborg assassin who has been sent back from the year 2029 by a group of artificially intelligent machines intent on exterminating the human race. The Terminator’s mission is to kill Sarah Connor, whose future son, John Connor, leads a resistance against the machines. Kyle Reese, a human, is also sent back from the future by John Connor himself to protect her.

In 2008, “The Terminator” was one of 25 films selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. The annual selection, conducted by the Library of Congress, preserves films based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic significance.

The Malibu Film Society, launched by a group of Malibu film buffs and industry stalwarts, aims to bring to the city’s broad film community a venue for films that might not normally get a screening here.

“We want to be able to show documentaries, reissued classics and foreign films that Malibu doesn’t always get to see,” said MFS Executive Director Scott Tallal, managing director of CommCinema, one of the partners in the nonprofit society. (The Malibu Times and the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue are the other partners in the nonprofit venture.)

Winston’s family has donated the film projection equipment for the screening of “The Terminator” and for future Malibu Film Society screenings, which include a fully restored Blue Ray print of 1948 Academy Award winner “The Red Shoes;” Woody Allen’s Oscar-winner “Annie Hall;” last year’s “Waltz with Bashir,” the Israeli animated documentary about the 1982 Lebanon War; and the 1919 silent film, “Daddy-Long-Legs,” starring Mary Pickford, which will feature a chamber orchestra conducted by Maria Newman.

And while movie buffs, budding filmmakers and local citizens on Sunday gather to watch “The Terminator” and pay tribute to Winston’s famed achievements, Matt Winston’s reminder is that his father’s talent is the result of his way of life.

“He demonstrated with his life that if you do what you love, the money will come,” Winston said. “My father was utterly fearless in his pursuit of his career and I thank him for that philosophy.”

Saturday’s tribute and screening will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue, 24855 Pacific Coast Highway. Tickets are $40 per person or $75 per couple for advance reservations, and $50 at the door. Reservations and more information can be obtained by calling 310.589.0223 or online at www.malibufilmsociety.org

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