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Film Academy invitees have local ties

As you probably know, 683 people have been invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Now, much has been said about this Academy Class of 2016 — 46 percent of them are female; 41 percent are people of color; there are 283 international members from 59 countries; etc. etc. — but we’d like to point out another interesting factoid: Several of the new invitees have ties to New England.

They include Vermont-born performance artist Miranda July; film producer (and Harvard alum) Mynette Louie; Maine native Katie Aselton; and filmmaker (and Brown University alum) Kirsten Johnson.

We know at least two invitees from the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge: Cherry Jones was a founding member of ART and has appeared on its stage many times, most recently in the 2013 production of “The Glass Menagerie.” Another invitee with ART connections is Mark Rylance. The Oscar-winning actor had a show at ART this season, which his wife, Claire van Kampen, directed.

Another six share the common bond of having worked on “Spotlight,” the Oscar-winning movie about The Boston Globe’s investigative team. The half-dozen members of the cast and crew who received invitations were actress Rachel McAdams, who played Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer; film editor Tom McArdle; sound guys George Lara and Paul Hsu; producer Michael Sugar (who graduated from Brandeis University at the top of his class in 1995) and co-writer Josh Singer, a Harvard Law grad.


Four members of the cast and crew of the Whitey Bulger film “Black Mass” also made the cut: director Scott Cooper; actress Dakota Johnson; sound editor Byron Wilson, and music editor Jim Schultz.

Many have applauded the size and diversity of this year’s class.

“I think obviously what they’re trying to do is good,” said Sam Weisman, a Massachusetts-based producer and director who belongs to the academy’s directors’ branch.


Unlike some of the 2016 invitees, who found out they made the cut via Twitter, Weisman said he received a letter in the mail when he was asked to join the Academy in 1998.

Weisman said 683 is a “good number,” and this year’s class is bringing in people “who should have been in years ago.”

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” he said.