The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the nation's oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, announced today that director Kathryn Bigelow, actors Natalie Portman and Stanley Tucci, and producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, will each be presented with a career Tribute at the 19th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards on Monday November 30th in New York. IFP also announced it has moved the gala awards ceremony to Monday, November 30 at Cipriani Wall Street, from the previously announced date of Tuesday, December 1st.
Signaling the official kick-off to the film awards season, the Gotham Independent Film Awards is one of the leading awards for independent film. Anchoring the evening's six competitive awards for Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, are four Tributes to film community icons.
This year's Tribute selection represents a range of individuals - all veterans well-versed in the journey between lower-budget independent films and large-scale studio releases. In addition, all of the honorees are involved with some of this year's most critically acclaimed and/or highly anticipated films including: The Hurt Locker from Summit Entertainment (directed by Kathryn Bigelow) and Julie & Julia from Columbia Pictures (directed by Nora Ephron and featuring Stanley Tucci); and the upcoming Lionsgate release Brothers (directed by Jim Sheridan and featuring Natalie Portman), Paramount's The Lovely Bones (directed by Peter Jackson featuring Stanley Tucci), and A Serious Man (directed by the Coen Brothers and produced by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner) and Pirate Radio (directed by Richard Curtis and produced by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner) both to be released by Focus Features.
Kathryn Bigelow exploded back on the scene this year with her tense Iraqi war drama The Hurt Locker starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty. The film which is currently in release has already garnered numerous accolades. Bigelow's first film was the sexy and stylish Willem Dafoe starrer, The Loveless in 1982. But her career was elevated with Near Dark in 1985. The visually distinctive film caught the eye of the Museum of Modern Art which honored her with a career tribute at the time. She burst into mainstream in the classic action thriller Point Break, which starred Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. She followed with the critically acclaimed futuristic actioner Strange Days the big budget K-19: The Widowmaker with Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson and the more dramatic and personal The Weight of Water starring Sean Penn, all of which were praised for her technical expertise, intense and unique visuals, and unmatched ability to create suspense.
"Kathryn Bigelow's unparalleled ability to portray thrilling action and stomach churning suspense have been a mainstay of her work as a director", said Michelle Byrd, executive director of IFP. "What sets her apart, however, is her ability to bring those talents to bear on films of any budget while also presenting characters with emotional gravity."
Academy Award nominated actress Natalie Portman is best known for her versatile performances in Mike Nichols' Closer, Zach Braff's Garden State, the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and her breakout role in Luc Besson's The Professional. Natalie's latest work includes acting and directing in New York, I Love You, Jim Sheridan version of Brothers opposite Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal, and Don Roos' Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, which she also executive produced. Portman recently completed production on David Gordon Green's comedy Your Highness and will soon start filming Darren Aronsfsky's Black Swan. Portman draws on her celebrity to shine the spotlight on the impact of microloans on those in developing countries. She works on behalf of FINCA International, and was named its Ambassador of Hope in 2004.
"From a young age it has always been obvious that Natalie was a unique talent", said Byrd. "Her maturity was evident from the beginning, both in the roles she chose and the quality of her performances. IFP is excited to salute her still young but already full career this year as she shows off her directing, producing, and acting talents in three different films this winter."
Stanley Tucci has appeared in over 50 films and countless television shows. In the past few years he has appeared in The Devil Wears Prada, The Terminal and Road To Perdition. He is no stranger to the theater; and has appeared in multiple plays, on and off Broadway. Stanley was last seen in Julie & Julia, opposite Meryl Streep and directed by Nora Ephron and can next be seen in Blind Date, which he also co-wrote and directed, opposite Patricia Clarkson (September 25, 2009) and The Lovely Bones opposite Mark Wahlberg and Susan Sarandon (December 11, 2009). Stanley also served as an executive producer on Saint John of Las Vegas, Olive Productions first co-production, which will be released in November and will next be directing the indie comic drama The Hunter, starring Pierce Brosnan, Julianne Moore and Patricia Clarkson. He will also be making his Broadway directing debut in early 2010 with a revival of Ken Ludwig's Lend Me a Tenor starring T.R. Knight. Tucci's previous film credits include Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry, William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Robots, Space Chimps, Lucky Number Slevin, Maid In Manhattan, Shall We Dance?, Spin, Big Trouble, Sidewalks of New York, America's Sweethearts, The Alarmist, A Life Less Ordinary, The Daytrippers, Kiss of Death, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, It Could Happen to You, The Pelican Brief, Prelude to a Kiss, Billy Bathgate, In the Soup and Slaves of New York.
"Stanley Tucci is one of the most versatile stage and screen actors of his generation", said Byrd. "He has been a longtime favorite in independent film but his recent successes in TV and more mainstream films have revealed his great talents to an even wider audience. With a new production company we look forward to more great films with Stanley in front of and behind the camera."
Working Title Films, co-chaired by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner since 1992, is Europe's leading film production company. Founded in 1983, Working Title has made over 90 films. It's films have won six Academy Awards, 26 BAFTA Awards, and prestigious prizes at the Cannes and Berlin International Film Festivals.
Bevan and Fellner have been honoured with two of the highest film awards given to British filmmakers; the Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, at the Orange British Academy Film [BAFTA] Awards, and the Alexander Walker Film Award at the Evening Standard British Film Awards.
2009 has seen the release of critically acclaimed Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon, adapted by Peter Morgan from his play of the same name; Richard Curtis' Pirate Radio (aka The Boat That Rocked), starring Philip Seymour Hoffman; Kevin Macdonald's State of Play; and Joe Wright's The Soloist. A Serious Man, Working Title's seventh film with the Coen brothers, emerged as one of the critical highlights of this year's Toronto Film Festival. The other six collaborations being Burn After Reading; Fargo; The Hudsucker Proxy; The Big Lebowski; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; and The Man Who Wasn't There. The company's worldwide successes (in addition to those mentioned above) include Four Weddings and a Funeral; Love Actually; Billy Elliot; Notting Hill; About a Boy; The Interpreter; both Bridget Jones movies; Pride & Prejudice; Paul Greengrass' United 93; and Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Currently in post-production are; Beeban Kidron's Hippie Hippie Shake, starring Cillian Murphy and Sienna Miller; Paul Greengrass' Untitled Green Zone Thriller starring Matt Damon; and Susanna White's Nanny Mcphee And The Big Bang, starring Emma Thompson and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
"Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan have a long-standing tradition of producing a variety of quality films covering a diversity of genres, topics and historical periods," said Michelle Byrd, executive director of IFP. "Their impressive roster of seminal titles is a testament to their commitment to nurturing directors and talent."
This year's Gotham Awards tribute recipients join a prestigious group of previous honorees including: actors Javier Bardem, Pénelope Cruz and Kate Winslet; filmmakers Mira Nair, Gus Van Sant and Melvin Van Peebles; executives Shelia Nevins (HBO Documentaries) and Jonathan Sehring (IFC Films); and film critic Roger Ebert.
Nominees for the 19th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards™ will be announced on October 19th and winners will be honored at a star-studded ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on November 30th.
The Premiere sponsor of the Gotham Independent Film Awards™ is The New York Times. The awards will be promoted nationally in an eight-page special advertising section in The New York Times on Monday, November 30th.