Spring 2017

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52 CINEMONTAGE / Q2 2017 M aking a mark on the art of picture editing early in her career, Lillian E. Benson, ACE, continues to create notable work today. She also embodies the profession's highest personal and collegial standards, the recognition of which is reflected by her selection as the 2017 recipient of the Motion Picture Editors Guild's 2017 Fellowship and Service Award. As the editor of two episodes of the milestone PBS series Eyes on the Prize II (1990), she was part of a dynamic group of filmmakers who changed how the public perceived African-American history — and how the film and television industry regarded African-American documentarians. A two-season, 14-part series, Eyes on the Prize remains the definitive non-fiction examination of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Created and executive produced by the late Henry Hampton at his Blackside production company, it takes its title from the folk song anthem "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize." The series remains an evergreen work, used extensively in education and shown on television around the world to this day. It is the work of which Lillian is most proud. Lillian was championed at Boston-based Blackside by another African-American woman filmmaker, the late Jacqueline Shearer, a successful documentary producer and director, as well as a founding member of the board of directors of the Independent Television Service (ITVS). They were among the very small number of Black women then working in film and television. Lillian also credits as inspiration Madeline Anderson, the first African-American female in the United States to produce a nationally broadcast television series, PBS' The Infinity Factory (1978). Anderson also wrote, directed and edited I Am Somebody (1970), a groundbreaking short that examines the intersections among feminism, union activism and the Civil Rights Movement as Charleston, South Carolina nurses fight to unionize. These influences are important because they illuminate the foundations of Lillian's career: creating high-quality work, making socially relevant films, fostering others' successes and believing in union strength as a way to achieve respect and a fair living. For her 1990 work on the Eyes on the Prize II episode "The Promised Land, 1967-1968" Lillian was nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Personal Achievement in Videotape Editing. She continued at the top LILLIAN E. BENSON A Force of Nature with a Heart of Gold by Betsy A. McLane portrait by Wm. Stetz The Eyes on the Prize II editing staff in 1989: Front row, from left, assistants Kiki Zeldes, Maia Har- ris, Noland Walker, Leah Mahan; back row, editors Betty Ciccarelli, Chuck Scott, Lillian Benson and Tomas Ott.

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