ORONO, Maine — Lawrence Bender, an activist and producer of six Academy Award-winning films, will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary degree at commencement exercises May 11 at the University of Maine.
Bender’s films, which include “Good Will Hunting,” “Pulp Fiction,” and “Inglorious Basterds,” have received 29 Academy Award nominations, including three for best picture. Bender worked closely with director Quentin Tarantino throughout the 1990s, producing films such as “Reservoir Dogs,” “Jackie Brown” and “Kill Bill.”
As an activist, he was behind the 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” about former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s global warming education efforts, as well as “Countdown to Zero,” which focuses on global politicians and the risks of proliferation, terrorism and accidental use of nuclear weapons.
Bender, who graduated from UMaine in 1979 with a civil engineering degree, did not immediately respond to an interview request Monday.
In a 2012 Huffington Post blog post, Bender expressed frustration that “An Inconvenient Truth” hadn’t inspired the sweeping changes he’d hoped governments would make.
“It is time for other institutions to step up. And one place that is happening is our universities, which can serve as powerful agents of change,” he wrote. “America has some of the top research institutions in the world. They understand the issue to its core — from climate change to biodiversity loss, to air, water and soil pollution. Increasingly, professors from different disciplines like law, policy and chemistry are working together on finding a more sustainable way of living without sacrificing quality of life. The green chemistry movement is a great example of that. This integrated, multi-disciplinary approach is where real, practical solutions can come from.”
In 2009, Bender was one of five alumni recognized by the University of Maine Foundation at its 75th anniversary celebration.
“Lawrence is one of our truly outstanding alumni,” UMaine President Paul Ferguson said in a news release. “We are so pleased to award him to award him with a Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of his excellent contributions to the arts through film and his deep commitment to addressing some of the major issues facing our society.”
Bender will speak at both graduation ceremonies, which are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. May 11.