Matt Damon; Director, David O. Russell along with Philanthropist and Social Entrepreneur Jeff Skoll will be presented with career tributes at the 22nd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards™ on Monday, November 26th at Cipriani Wall Street, in New York City. Signaling the official kick-off for the film awards season, the Gotham Independent Film Awards™ is one of the leading awards for independent film. Along with these three tributes, seven competitive awards for Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance, Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You and Audience Award will be announced.
This year’s Tribute selection is a group of individuals involved in incredibly relevant work who have made an indelible cultural impact on the industry– all film veterans with indie roots who celebrate and support independent visions. These honorees represent some of the most highly anticipated films of 2012 including: Promised Land from Focus Features (featuring Matt Damon and directed by Gus Van Sant, produced by Participant Media); and the upcoming Weinstein Co. release Silver Linings Playbook (directed by David O. Russell and featuring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence).
“It is with pride and great pleasure that we give tribute to these three luminaries, each of whom plays an amazing role in expanding the language of film, breaking boundaries along the way,” said Joana Vicente, Executive Director of the IFP. “Each has a unique voice and clearly defined vision of cinema for the current generation, bringing perspective and relevance to the film world today.”
Matt Damon has been honored for his work on both sides of the camera, most recently earning Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Critics’ Choice Award nominations for his portrayal of South African rugby hero Francois Pienaar in Clint Eastwood’s true-life drama Invictus. He was also recently a double Golden Globe Award nominee, for that performance and for his starring role in Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! Earlier in his career, Mr. Damon won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, for his breakthrough feature Good Will Hunting, which he wrote and starred in with his lifelong friend Ben Affleck and which was directed by Gus Van Sant. The movie also brought him a Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay as well as Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Actor. He has since reteamed with Mr. Van Sant, acting in Finding Forrester; starring opposite Casey Affleck in Gerry, which the trio wrote together; and now making Promised Land, which Mr. Damon wrote with John Krasinski and which will be released in December.
Mr. Damon has also repeatedly teamed with Mr. Soderbergh. He was part of the ensembles in the Ocean’s trilogy and in Contagion; and recently completed his starring role as Scott Thorson opposite Michael Douglas as Liberace in the telefilm Behind the Candelabra. He played the title roles in Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, for which he was a Golden Globe Award nominee, and in Saving Private Ryan, which won five Academy Awards including Best Director (Steven Spielberg); and starred in The Departed, which won four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director (Martin Scorsese). With his fellow actors from the latter two movies, Mr. Damon shared Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Hailing from Boston, Mr. Damon attended Harvard University and gained his first acting experience with the American Repertory Theatre. He is partnered with Ben Affleck in the production company Pearl Street Films, developing projects for multiple mediums including film. He is a co-founder of H20 Africa, now known as www.water.org.
David O. Russell directed THE FIGHTER (2010), a film that earned seven Oscar nominations, including Best Achievement in Directing (Russell) and Best Motion Picture of the Year. Two of THE FIGHTER’s stars Christian Bale and Melissa Leo won Academy Awards for their performances. Russell’s prior films include THREE KINGS (1999), starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube, which earned Russell a nomination from the Writers Guild of America for Best Screenplay, in addition to appearing on over 100 critics’ top ten lists and being awarded the Boston Film Critics Society Film of the Year and Director of the Year. Russell’s comedies I HEART HUCKABEES (2004) and FLIRTING WITH DISASTER (1996) appeared on many top ten lists. The first film Russell wrote and directed, SPANKING THE MONKEY, won the 1994 Sundance Film Festival’s Audience Award and won Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay at the 1994 Independent Spirit Awards. In 2002, Russell joined the board of the Bronx’s Ghetto Film School, then abrand-new, all-volunteer local summer project with a very small budget and no presence within the film industry. Today, GFS is New York’s first public high school for cinema, an award-winning program model that has helped over 500 teenagers tell their stories.
Jeff Skoll is a philanthropist and social entrepreneur. As founder and chairman of the Skoll Foundation, Participant Media and the Skoll Global Threats Fund, he is bringing life to his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity. Jeff founded Participant Media in 2004 with the belief that a story well told has the power to inspire and compel social change. Participant’s films are accompanied by social action and advocacy campaigns to engage people on the issues addressed in the films. Jeff has served as Executive Producer on over 33 films to date, which have collectively received a total of 5 Academy Awards® and 22 nominations. Participant’s films include, among others, Good Night, and Good Luck, North Country, Syriana, An Inconvenient Truth, The Kite Runner, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Visitor, The Cove, Countdown to Zero, Waiting for “Superman”, Food, Inc., The Help, Contagion, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Lincoln and Promised Land. In 2009, Participant launched its digital hub TakePart.com, an on-line Social Action Network™ that engages people in the major issues which shape their lives. TakePart launched a digital magazine on MSN and a YouTube network in 2012.
The Premier Sponsors of the 22nd annual Gotham Independent Film Awards™ are Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and The New York Times, Presenting Sponsor euphoria Calvin Klein, Preferred Sponsors Directors Guild of America and PMC, Official Spirit Russian Standard Vodka, Official Wine Partner Mionetto Prosecco, Official Partners: charitybuzz; MoMA; Andaz Wall Street. Additionally, the awards will be promoted nationally in an eight-page special advertising section in The New York Times on November 16th, 2012.