American Airlines supports female directors in Hollywood with the Bonnie Award, which launched in 2018 and is named after its first female pilot. The airline has also showcased female-driven films over the years via a dedicated Bonnie in-flight entertainment channel.
American Airlines’ coveted Bonnie Award, which celebrates women in film by presenting $50,000 each year to a female director in Hollywood, was given to Kelly Reichardt this week. The award is named after the first female pilot at a major US airline, Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo, who joined American as a flight engineer in 1973 and later flew for the carrier for 26 years before retiring. With Tiburzi Caputo in attendance, Reichardt, whose films include Certain Women and Wendy and Lucy, took home the Bonnie at a star-studded awards brunch held in advance of tomorrow’s Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica.
This year’s Bonnie nominees also included Lulu Wang (The Farewell) and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood helmer Marielle Heller. Thanking Film Independent and American for their history of supporting female voices in Hollywood, Reichardt acknowledged her fellow nominees and noted the huge impact awards like the Bonnie have on emerging female filmmakers.
“Being in these women’s awards groups or whatever, it always feels a little bit like sitting at the child’s table,” said Reichardt in her acceptance speech. “But the table has gotten so much less lonely and the company’s become so great, like with Lulu and Marielle. Thank you very much to Bonnie, the Spirit Awards and American Airlines.”
In a year where the Oscars failed to nominate any female directors, an award like the Bonnie could not be more timely. While female filmmakers had a far better showing at the Spirit Awards nominations and the recently concluded Sundance Film Festival – where women swept the top directing prizes – Hollywood, like aviation, is still very much a male-dominated field.
Indie film fans looking to catch up on the work of Reichardt’s fellow Bonnie Award nominees in flight can purchase Neighborhood and The Farewell as digital downloads on Amazon Prime Video. The Farewell is also currently playing on select American, United, and Singapore Airlines flights worldwide.