History of WFI

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The idea to establish an organization that would truly celebrate and unite the film world began when Antonio Gellini, at 17, was a participant at the Berlin Film Festival. From there, Antonio took part in and attended a multitude of international film festivals, film markets and entertainment industry events. The dedication and passion Antonio demonstrated over the years  distinguished him in the international film community.

Antonio’s efforts caught the attention of the renowned television production company Dick Clark Productions (dcp), in 1994. Dick Clark joined in Antonio’s vision by agreeing to produce television awards shows for the World Film Institute (WFI), honoring the world entertainment community.

In 1995 Tichi Wilkerson Kassel, former owner, publisher and editor-in-chief for The Hollywood Reporter and CEO of Hollywood Reporter Industries (publisher of over 70 magazines annually) became acquainted with Antonio through various international industry events and film festivals. A generous patron of the arts, Tichi over the years has promoted and recognized excellence in all areas of the entertainment industry. She founded Women in Film, the Hollywood Report Key Arts Awards and Marketing Concept Awards, all of which benefit the entertainment and motion pictures industry around the world. Tichi, became aware of Antonio’s vision and discovered that they shared similar interest and goals so she agreed to assist Antonio in his life long quest. Antonio and Tichi established the World Film Intitute as an official non-profit organization to recognize outstanding achievements of the motion picture industry.  Tichi was made the World Film Institutes President Emritus and Antonio Gellini, its Founder and President.

In October 1995, the WFI held its very own film festival, the “Best of the Fest,” at Unviersal Studios, as part of the semi-annual “Creativity in America Expostion.” At the Gala festival dinner, the WFI honored Helen Harris for her work in the development of “Theater Vision,” an innovative technology designed to enhance motion picture experience for the visually impaired.

In April 1996, WFI presented its first scholarship to UCLA’s School of Cinema. At his Paramount Studios offices, WFI’s Scholarship Committee co-Chairman, Howard Koch made the presentation, generously accepted on the university’s behalf by Dean Gil Cates.

In 1996 Atonio Gellini, Dick Clark Productions (dcb) and Direct TV/Primestar produced the highly success Family Film Awards. This award show was attended by celebrities such as Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and many more.

Currently the WFI is re-launching the annual  Family Film Awards, honoring the best family motion pictures and television accomplishments and the Olympia Film Awards honoring the best in films globally.

Thank for memory of the WFI Board Of Director (1994)

Dennis Kain  :  serves as WFI Director of Marketing and Promotions, having joined WFI at its very inception. Mr. Kain has been the key architect of the institute’s year long, 25-country tour which was designed to introduce the WFI to filmmaking organizations and film festival directors.  He is now responsible for coordinating WFI’s recently organized presentations at The Moscow Film Festival (Russia), The Cannes Film Festival (France) and the The Sochi Film Festival (Georgia).

howard-kuchHoward Koch  :  former Production Chief at Paramount, is one of the most successful independent producers in Hollywood. Among his many films are the blockbuster hits, Ghost,AirplanePlaza SuiteThe Odd Couple, and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. His career at Paramount spanned over thirty-three years, an unprecedented relationship between a studio and a filmmaker. He has been actively involved in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, including serving as its President from 1977 to 1979. He produced a total of eight Emmy nominated Academy Awards Programs from 1972 to 1983. Many honors have been bestowed upon him including the Frank Capra Award from the Directors Guild of America (1991) and the David O’Selznick Life time achievement Award from  the Producers Guild of America (1995).

Kayla Garen: Director of Operations and General Manager of Hollywood Reporter Industries, since 1981, Ms. Garen boast over 18 years of experience in entertainment industry executive management. Prior to joining The Hollywood Reporter, she held the position of Vice President of Corporate Development at Starquest Productions, as Los Angeles based multimedia production company. A graduate of the University of Mexico with a degree in Business Management, she went on to attend Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Phyllis Lycett  :  Ms. Lycett has held many prominent position in the entertainment world; such as President of American Women in Film in Radio and Television, Board Members of Women in Film, and President of the Hollywood Women’s Press Club. She has also produced the Women in Film Crystal Awards and the American Women in Radio and Television Genii Awards. Ms. Lycette is the founder of the Amas Repertory Company, one of New York’s most successful theatrical companies and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles based  “West Coast Ensemble.” Producer of many plays  in both New York and Los Angles, she has been nominated for her work on Biloxi Blues and The Manchurian Candidate.

Donald O’Connor:  Mr. O’Connor is a legendary performer. Having begun his career at age three and then making his screen debut in 1938 as Bing Crosby’s younger brother in Sing, You Sinners, he went on to become one of Hollywood’s top musical comedy stars. He has appeared in such musicals as Walking My Baby Back HomeThere’s No Business Like Show Business,Anything Goes, Call Me Madam and the classic Singing in the Rain. Also a successful television personality, Mr. O’Connor had his own series Here Comes Donald, and in 1953 won a “Best Male Star in a Regular Series” Emmy Award for his role in The Colgate Comedy Hour. He has been honored with many awards including Will Rogers Memorial Award, The City of Hope Founders Award, and the Tahlian honoree at their 1996 gala. The tireless Mr. O’Connor continues to work and has just completed two years of concerts and nightclub performances with Debbie Reynolds.

Arthur K. Snyder:  Having served the City of Los Angeles as a member of the City Council for almost 20 years. Mr. Snyder now is Senior Counsel of his own Law firm. While on the City Council, he has Chairman City on the California Coastal Commission. Presently he serves on the Board of Directors of the Central city Association and is a member of the Downtown Strategic Plan and Advisory Committee. His current law practice includes a wide variety of legal areas including government advocacy, real estate, civil litigation, administrative law, and municipal contracts and franchises. He is a member of the Federal, American and California Bar Associations, the American Trial Lawyers Association, Legion Lex, and the American Judiciary Society.