Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Power of Films for Change: An Interview with Kat Kramer

By Ann Baldwin
Kat Kramer
Katharine ‘Kat’ Kramer is an accomplished producer, actress, singer, activist, and the Vice President of KNK Productions, Inc. and The Stanley Kramer Library. She founded “Kat Kramer’s Films that Change the World” to showcase motion pictures that raise awareness of important social issues. She follows in the footsteps of her late father, the legendary producer/director Stanley Kramer, who was known for taking artistic and financial risks by making movies about controversial subjects. 
Kat has appeared in such films as Going Shopping, Hollywood Dreams, What Just Happened?, and Little Fockers. She currently Co-Stars in Seasons 3 and 4 of the popular web series Child of the 70’s; she is currently FYC for an Emmy nomination for short form and about to start Season 5. Kat has headlined at Awards shows and Galas for such luminaries as Shirley MacLaine, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci. She is a former Miss Golden Globe and proudly serves on the Advisory Board of the prestigious LA Press Club. Kat is the Godchild/Namesake of screen icon Katharine Hepburn and the West Coast Representative of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.
While most movies are about change of some kind, they can also literally move us to take action for change; the really good ones penetrate deep through to our hearts and ignite powerful emotions within us. Films that are a catalyst for change will inspire and motivate us to actually go out and do something to make a positive difference in this world. These films usually have a lasting impact and leave a permanent imprint on our lives. 
Whether a narrative or documentary film, they can cover social, environmental, animal rights, political, financial, or health issues. These films can be about an array of subjects from interracial marriage (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?) to global warming (An Inconvenient Truth) to wild animals in captivity (Blackfish).
I had the opportunity to connect with Kat to discuss the topic and catch-up on her current projects in this arena. 

Kat Kramer's cinema series screening of The Cove
Ann: Do you remember one of the first films you watched that inspired you to take action? 
Kat: Well, too many to single out one in particular. Certainly my father's films Inherit the Wind, On the Beach, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Bless the Beasts and Children and documentaries such as An Inconvenient Truth and The Cove have inspired me; also, all the films I've presented and previous Stanley Kramer Award winners. Older films such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Reds, Rainman, Thelma & Louise, and even 9 To 5, about equality for secretaries and the working woman, as well as The China Syndrome for sure have had an impact on my life. I'm almost positive I'm leaving one out that was a "game changer" for me. Serving in Silence, the television film starring Glenn Close and produced by Barbra Streisand was another powerful film. 
All of my idols and role models, besides my family, have been either socially-conscious and political in their work or activists and advocates for causes in their personal lives, and my Godmother, Katharine Hepburn, was an early Feminist. My mother Karen Sharpe-Kramer is an award-winning actress, acclaimed producer, and the "Keeper of the flame" of the Stanley Kramer Library and Legacy. I guess you could say it's in the DNA.

Kat Kramer & Anne Archer screening of Yentl
Ann: Why did you start your film series, Kat Kramer’s Films that Change the World?
Kat: I wanted to give new filmmakers a "voice" and it was largely inspired by the prestigious Stanley Kramer Award at the Producer's Guild of America that my mother and I established in 2001, after my father passed away. At that time there were few socially-conscious films to select for this honor; now, there are often too many to choose from. So, when we created the Stanley Kramer Theatre on the lot at Sunset-Gower/Sunset-Bronson Studios (formerly Columbia Studios) where he made a great deal of his films, I decided to start a cinema series of films that  were "game-changers" other than my father's films. I gathered a handful of actorvists and industry professionals and presented the 25th Anniversary of Barbra Streisand's YENTL, during Women's History month, and thus the debut of "Kat Kramer's Films that Change the World."  

But more than just screening the films, I was hungry to explore the issues and have high-profile activists and students along with the cast/creators of the films talk openly in an intimate setting. This gave birth to my ever evolving "think-tank" panels. Women's empowerment issues have always been a key issue for my cinema series from YENTL to GRANDMA and now with THE HUNTING GROUND; it's coming around full circle. There is also a new Feminist film that I plan to present for an up-coming installment.

Lily Tomlin, Kat Kramer, Tippi Hedren, & Cher screening of Elephants and Man

Ann: You’ve showcased films such as The Cove, about the inhumane treatment of dolphins in Japan, Elephants and Man, about the history of inhumane treatment of elephants by man (in the wild and captivity), and Teach Your Children Well, about homophobia and school violence; June 3 will be your ninth installment/screening in your film series, can you share what the film is and what it’s about?

Kat: This time I'm focusing on the rape issue. It’s my first time presenting a double-feature; the first is James Haven's directorial debut, a short called Court Of Conscience, starring his father Jon Voight and the late Anton Yelchin; in fact, the day is being dedicated to Anton. This film is about child abuse and excessive use of power. The second one is The Hunting Ground, which we gave the 2016 Stanley Kramer Award at the Producer's Guild of America Awards. This is a groundbreaking, award-winning film by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. The theme song Til It Happens To You was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original song and was written by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga. We were able to have Gaga perform the song during the PGA Awards ceremony. She also performed it at the Oscars along with rape survivors on-stage and got a long standing ovation. It was one of the most memorable moments in Oscar history.

 James Haven is an expert on the long term effects of child abuse and advocates for children as a mission. There will be experts joining the panel and it will be an eye opening experience. Many people coming haven't seen The Hunting Ground yet, which has won multiple awards already and broken ground. As an anti-bullying activist and motivational speaker, I feel it's important that I continue to advocate and be a "voice" for the "voiceless." Rape is a form of bullying in the worst way. 

I presented Teach Your Children Well twice, because I've been bullied and harassed, and I wanted to spread much needed awareness about teen LGBTQ bullying and school violence. Luckily my main cinema series Ambassador, Lily Tomlin, narrated this award-winning documentary and we appeared on CNN together to promote it, as we've always teamed-up on television and radio to promote the issues and films. Saturday's double-features will prove just as powerful a message.

Lily Tomlin and Kat Kramer

Ann: I know you’re doing a live Q&A at the 14th annual Scriptfest on June 24th at the Burbank Marriot, what can you tell us about your special guest and the theme for your discussion? 

Dustin Lance Black Oscar Winner
Kat: Well, thank you. It will be my first time at Scriptfest. I'm excited to be moderating a ‘one-on-one’ interview with my special guest, Dustin Lance Black. We have a bit of history together in that my mother and I both selected his film MILK for the Producer's Guild of America. Dustin wrote Milk and it won him his first Academy Award. He's a multiple award-winner and has created the groundbreaking LGBT-themed mini-series When We Rise on ABC, which we will focus on during the Q and A. It's outreach too for “Kat Kramer's Films that Change the World” and we will address the topic of “how films can change the world.” 

Dustin Lance Black will be donating his honorary fee from Scriptfest to the “It Gets Better” Project and he is embarking on a unique project with their organization. “It Gets Better” was part of the Host Committee for Teach Your Children Well and on the panel as well. It will be a tremendous learning experience for everyone who attends Scriptfest on June 24th. For more info on my cinema series please visit my official websites and  or just google it, because there is much content online with international and social media coverage.

If you’d like to attend Kat Kramer and Dustin Lance Black’s live Q&A at Scriptfest on June 24th at the Burbank Marriot, visit to register today.