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Academy Award Winning Actor Forest Whitaker to Receive Actor Tribute at IFP’s 23rd Annual Gotham Independent Film Award

by Website Update on October 3, 2013


Monday, December 2nd Cipriani Wall Street

New York, NY (September  x, 2013) – The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the nation’s premiere advocacy organization for independent filmmakers, announced today that Forest Whitaker will be presented with the Actor Tribute at the 23rd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards on Monday, December 2nd at Cipriani Wall Street, in New York City. Whitaker joins previously announced tributees Richard Linklater and Katherine Oliver.

Signaling the official kick-off for the film awards season, the Gotham Independent Film Awardsis one of the leading awards for independent film. Anchoring the evening’s seven competitive awards for Best Feature, Best Actress (presenting sponsor euphoria Calvin Klein), Best Actor, Best Documentary, Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director (presenting sponsor Royal Bank of Canada), Breakthrough Actor and the Audience Award are three tributes to film community icons, including the Industry Tribute, the Actor Tribute, and the Director Tribute (presenting sponsor Russian Standard Vodka).

The 2013 Actor Tribute epitomizes a performer with a prolific and diverse body of work.  A film veteran with indie roots, Forest Whitaker has made an undeniable impact in the entertainment world with his work both behind and in front of the camera. As an actor, his work has been recognized by the Academy Awards, the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes, the Emmy Awards, the National Board of Review, the Peabody Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild, among many others. As a producer and director, he has given us a dynamic and impressive array of films, including this year’s resonating Fruitvale Station. His starring role in the Weinstein Company’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler was one of the most anticipated performances of the year, and is another testament to his depth, range, and immeasurable talent.  Whitaker will also appear in the upcoming Black Nativity and Out of the Furnace, slated for winter 2013 releases.

“We are thrilled to pay honor to a man whose work has played a significant role in the film world over the last 25 years”, said Joana Vicente, Executive Director of the IFP. “Breaking boundaries and challenging audiences with complex, multi-faceted roles, Forest Whitaker is a significant independent voice whose performances have only been elevated by his visionary work as a producer, director, and humanitarian.”

Forest Whitaker is a distinguished artist and humanist. He is the founder of PeaceEarth Foundation, co-founder and chair of the International Institute for Peace and is the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. Whitaker is also a talented, versatile performer and one of Hollywood’s most accomplished figures. He has received prestigious artistic distinctions including the 2007 Academy Award® for Best Actor for his performance in The Last King of Scotland as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. He has also received the BAFTA Award, SAG Award, and Golden Globe® for Best Actor. In addition, Whitaker received the Best Actor for Bird at the Cannes Film Festival. Forest Whitaker has dedicated most of his time to extensive humanitarian work over the past decade. His social awareness has compelled him to seek ways of using the film medium as a means to raise peoples’ consciousness. He produced the award-winning documentary Kassim the Dream, which tells the poignant story of a Ugandan child soldier turned world championship boxer, Rising From Ashes, which profiles Genocide survivors of the Rwandan war who have risen from wooden bicycles to competing in the Olympics, Serving Life, which focuses on hospice care for prisoners at Louisiana’s Angola Prison, and the Emmy nominated and Peabody Award-winning Brick City, which takes a look at inner-city life in Newark, New Jersey.

In 2007, Whitaker received the Cinema for Peace Award for his selfless and ongoing advocacy for child soldiers, as well as his work with inner-city youth. He was also awarded the Humanitas Prize in 2001. In 2008, he served as a member of the Urban Policy Committee and currently sits on the board of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). Whitaker serves as a Senior Research Scholar at Rutgers University, and a Visiting Professor at Ringling College of Art and Design. In 2011, Whitaker was designated as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. In this role, he works towards global peace building through anti-violent education, research, training and community building. In recognition of his commitment as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and for his outstanding contribution to the work of the Organization, Whitaker received in December 2012 the United Nations Correspondents Association Advocate of the Year Award. In 2013, Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center appointed Whitaker as a Martin Luther King Jr Fellow. The same year he received by the French Government the distinction of “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres” (Knight of the Order of the Arts and Letters) in recognition of his work as an outstanding artist and a humanist who dedicatedly chose to serve the disadvantaged and those affected by conflicts and violence for the sake of peace and dialogue.

Whitaker will join a prestigious group of previous Gotham Award honorees including:  actors Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Charlize Theron, Robert Duval, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem, Pénelope Cruz and Kate Winslet; directors David O. Russell, David Cronenberg, Mira Nair, Gus Van Sant, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese; industry icons Jeff Skoll, Tom Rothman, James Schamus, Bob & Harvey Weinstein, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sheila Nevins, Michael Barker, Tom Bernard, Marcie Bloom, Jonathan Sehring, and film critic Roger Ebert.

Nominees for the 23rd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards will be announced on October 24th and winners will be honored at a star-studded ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on December 2nd.

The Premier Sponsors of the 23rd annual Gotham Independent Film Awards are Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and The New York Times, Platinum Sponsor euphoria Calvin Klein, Official Water FIJI Water, Official Spirit Russian Standard Vodka, Official Wine Partner Mionetto Prosecco, Official Hotel Andaz Wall Street. Additionally, the awards will be promoted nationally in an eight-page special advertising section in The New York Times on November 22nd, 2013.

About Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP)

The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) is the nation’s oldest and largest not-for-profit advocacy organization for independent filmmakers.  Since its debut at the 1979 New York Film Festival, IFP has supported the production of over 7,000 films and offered resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers, providing an opportunity for many diverse voices to be heard. IFP believes that independent films enrich the universal language of cinema, seeding the global culture with new ideas, kindling awareness, and fostering activism. The organization championed the early work of pioneering independent filmmakers Charles Burnett, Todd Haynes, Mira Nair, Michael Moore, Joel and Ethan Coen, Kevin Smith, and Todd Solondz. IFP continues to play a vital role in launching first films of many of today’s rising stars on the independent scene including Debra Granik (Down to the Bone), Miranda July (Me, You and Everyone We Know), Ryan Fleck & Anna Boden (Half Nelson), Dee Rees (Pariah), and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

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About the Gotham Independent Film Awards

The Gotham Independent Film Awards, selected by distinguished juries and presented in New York City, the home of independent film, are the first honors of the film awards season. This public showcase honors the filmmaking community, expands the audience for independent films, and supports the work that IFP does behind the scenes throughout the year to bring such films to fruition.

For information on attending: