LOS ANGELES -- As Hollywood continues, the first Oscars of awards season were presented to four film-industry veterans.
The film academy's ninth annual Governors Awards ceremony Saturday celebrated the careers of writer-director Charles Burnett, cinematographer Owen Roizman, actor Donald Sutherland and director Agnes Varda. Each will receive an Oscar statuette.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president John Bailey called the honorary award recipients "very representative of the breadth of filmmaking." None has won an Oscar before, though Roizman was nominated five times.
Governors Awards honorees are chosen by the organization's 54-member leadership board.
"These are our awards," Bailey said. "These are the people that we feel we want to single out."
The private, untelevised dinner gala at the Hollywood & Highland complex is traditionally a who's who of the film industry and forthcoming Oscar season. Highlights from the evening will likely be included in the 90th annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018.
Here's a look at the four honorees:
An independent filmmaker, Burnett has devoted his career to telling stories about the experiences of African-Americans frequently avoided in Hollywood fare. His first film, "Killer of Sheep," starred his friends and neighbors from Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood and helped transform what he thought would be a hobby into a career. He's made films like "To Sleep with Anger" but also done shorts and documentaries. Burnett, 73, said the idea of receiving an Oscar was surreal. "You can't wait to have this thing over with to be sure that it's is real, that you aren't still dreaming," he said.
A second-generation cinematographer, Roizman was nominated for five Academy Awards during his career. His work on "The French Connection," which brought his first Oscar nod, established his reputation for realism on camera. Nominations for "The Exorcist," ''Network," ''Tootsie" and "Wyatt Earp" followed. Roizman shot his final frame of film for 1995's "French Kiss." He discovered digital photography once he retired, and made a prolific hobby of it. His portraits have been exhibited at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' headquarters in Beverly Hills, California.
Take a look at a scene from "The French Connection" in the video below:
Sutherland has appeared in films of every genre, with more than 140 credits over his more than 50 years in Hollywood, but the Canadian actor has never been nominated for an Academy Award. "It had never occurred to me, not even remotely ... that people would think to honor me in such a way," the 82-year-old said in a recent interview. The honorary Oscar doesn't make him any less eager to work, though. He said he hopes his final breaths might come mid-scene on set and become part of his final film.
A pioneer of the French New Wave filmmaking movement, Varda wrote and directed her first film in 1956. She has made both narratives and documentaries, the most recent being this year's "Faces Places," which she co-directed with the 34-year-old street artist JR. Varda said she set out to make "radical cinema" when she started her career, and that being a woman was never an obstacle. There are more female filmmakers in France than in Hollywood, she said: "France is a country where 25 percent of the filmmakers are women ... because we have pushed the idea that they can do it, that there's no reason they can't do it."