Justice for Leon Vitali: subject of doc 'Filmworker' gets invite to join Motion Picture Academy
Director Tony Zierra documented Vitali's extraordinary collaboration with Stanley Kubrick that began with Barry Lyndon
Leon Vitali, whose immense contributions to the work of Stanley Kubrick might never have been appreciated without the recent documentary Filmworker, has earned an invitation to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The offer came Monday as the Academy announced a list of 928 actors, directors, editors and more to join the exclusive group. Vitali's invitation is not for a particular branch of the Academy but as an "at-large" member, which seems appropriate given the broad nature of his cinematic work that defies easy categorization.
Director Tony Zierra investigated Vitali's long collaboration with Kubrick in Filmworker, which recently played in theaters after premiering at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Vitali's work with the legendary filmmaker began with Barry Lyndon, in which Vitali co-starred as the lily-livered Lord Bullingdon. After that he became Kubrick's chief amanuensis, doing anything and everything the director needed to achieve his exacting vision-- from casting to rehearsing actors, color timing, remastering -- the list was exhaustive and endless.
Not even Vitali's family was aware of the extraordinary range of his efforts and the incredible demands on his time and health that Kubrick made. That ignorance evidently extended to the wider film community -- otherwise Vitali would long ago have been offered Academy membership.
Watch our interview with Vitali and Zierra at the AFI Film Festival last November:
Related: Director Tony Zierra and producer Elizabeth Yoffe on Filmworker Leon Vitali -- 'He is cinema'
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.