Avatar, 3D and Twitter head AFI’s ‘Moments of Significance’ for 2009


By Nancy Tartaglione

The American Film Institute has hailed James Cameron’s Avatar as one of the eight “Moments of Significance” for 2009. The Moments list, which cites events or trends deemed to have had an impact on the world of the moving image during the year, is a companion piece to the AFI Movies of the Year and the AFI Television Programs of the Year.

The group described Avatar as a pioneering effort to unleash the human imagination, “a film that firmly established itself as a landmark in the way stories are told.” The AFI added that Cameron’s advances in CGI and 3D are “an achievement that will have profound effects on the future of the art form.”

To make the cut the selections may include “accomplishments of considerable merit; influences with either a positive or negative impression; trends, either new or re-emerging; anniversaries or memorials of special note; and/or movements in new technologies, education, preservation, government or other areas that impact the art film, television and digital media.”

Also on the list were animated films, Twitter, the recession and “The Jay Leno Show” (which, by creating a loss of five hours traditionally reserved for episodic drama, “had a harsh effect in job losses for the creative ensembles whose stories were told at that time, and also among national affiliate stations”).

Reality TV’s loss of boundaries were significant, AFI said, because “the ‘characters’ now referred to as ‘Balloon Boy’ and ‘Octomom,’ in addition to a couple who allegedly infiltrated the White House to attend a state dinner, have marked the year as one in which the health and welfare of our citizens should be considered before the standards and practices of television.”

The end of analog TV and other signs of “sea change,” such as cancelation of “The Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns,” the scarcity of longform TV, Comcast’s bid to buy NBC Universal and the continued rise in the reliance of DVRs were also noted.

Finally, the AFI list also included Michael Jackson’s death and the concert film, This Is It. “The film proved an unprecedented global eulogy for fans and friends of the ‘King of Pop,'” AFI said.