Confab honorees share a commitment to the art of showing movies


Stewart Harnell, founder and president, Cinema Concepts
Show "E" Award


On a recent day, Harnell shipped 57,000 reels of film and thousands more digital drives loaded with commercials to theaters nationwide -- not bad for a guy whose company started 30 years ago as a tiny outfit. Harnell now controls about 75% of the market for delivery of in-theater ads. He compares what he does for a living with his favorite sporting activity, fishing, which he does on a lake adjoining his Atlanta home. "In both, I never know what is going to happen," he says. "For instance, one day recently we got this call from Coca-Cola. 'Can you guys make over our polar bear commercial in 3D?' So we did a test. It's called dimensionalizing. They loved it, so now we are converting all those commercials."

Samuel "Sonny" Gourley, president, film programming, AMC Entertainment
Salah M. Hassanein Humanitarian Award


A 34-year AMC veteran, Gourley sees his job as much more than a film exhibitor. "We're a retail company that goes into each community," he says. "So we have a responsibility to give back to that community." As AMC has moved him around the country, Gourley has exercised that responsibility with the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers and Variety -- The Children's Charity, helping revitalize the chapter in Atlanta and serving on boards. "Were looking to help children that aren't quite so fortunate." Gourley, his wife and 12-year-old son recently relocated from Kansas City to Los Angeles, and he couldn't be happier. "That's where the business is," he says. "It's a company town and I'm glad to be back and a part of it."


Kelly O'Connor, senior vp exhibitor and marketing services, Warner Bros.
Al Shapiro Distinguished Service Award

A lot has changed in the 21 years O'Connor has worked with exhibitors, yet some things remain the same. "Even in a world with Internet and everything else, the onscreen experience is really one of the best ways to sell a film," she says. That is where she uses her relationships to place trailers, one-sheets, standees and other materials onscreen and in theater lobbies beginning months before a movie opens. O'Connor also supports industry charities by running in marathons, raising more than $35,000 over the years. "I like using my position to help other people."

Mike Moraskie, Caribbean Cinemas
International Achievement in Exhibition


He just joined the company in August but Moraskie has been involved in Latin American exhibition since going to work for Warner Bros. in Puerto Rico 20 years ago. At Cinepolis in Mexico he instituted innovative marketing programs, expanded art-house and foreign-language releases and moved into regional distribution as the theater circuit grew from 500 to more than 2,000 screens. In his new post he will program 42 theaters across eight islands. "In Puerto Rico, audiences are mainly interested in American movies," he says. "In Mexico, local production represents about 8% of the annual boxoffice."


Jorge Amigo Castaneda, director general, Mexican Industrial Property Institute
Anti-Piracy Latin American Government Leadership Award

After a career in banking and manufacturing in Mexico, Amigo switched to the public sector and was appointed to his current job in 1994. There, he headed the delegation that negotiated NAFTA, founded the policy committee of the World Intellectual Property Organization and in 2008 was awarded a Gold Medal by WIPO for promoting respect for IP rights worldwide.

Jose "Pepe" Victoria, GM, UIP Panama
International Achievement Award in Distribution


Based in Panama, Victoria began his showbiz career in 1980 as an assistant booker for United Artists. Now in his second stint with London-based UIP, Victoria has helped shepherd Universal and Paramount films into the Latin American market.