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Excellence in Acting

PATRICIA CLARKSON - 2014

Since making her big-screen debut in 1987 in Brian De Palma's Oscar-winning The Untouchables, Patricia Clarkson's immense talent has allowed her to escape the trap of ever being pigeonholed. The New Orleans native received an MFA from the Yale School of Drama, where she appeared in a number of productions including Electra, Twelfth Night, and The Misanthrope. Roles in the acclaimed films High Art, The Green Mile, Far From Heaven, The Station Agent, Dogville, Good Night and Good Luck, and All the Real Girls soon followed. Channeling the grace, strength, beauty, and independence of one-of-a-kind actresses like Katharine Hepburn before her, it is Clarkson's diversity-her ability to disappear into any role-that has stood as her trademark.

Matt Dillon - 2013

Matt Dillon’s successful film career has spanned over three decades and has showcased his wide range of dramatic and comedic talents. From his breakthrough performance in The Outsiders to his hilarious turn as an obsessed private investigator in There’s Something About Mary, he has proven himself to be one of the most diverse actors of his generation.

In 1990 Dillon won an IFP Spirit Award for his gritty performance as a drug addict in Gus Van Sant’s Drugstore Cowboy. From there he went on to star in such films as Ted Demme’s Beautiful Girls, Cameron Crowe’s Singles, In & Out with Kevin Kline, Kevin Spacey’s Albino Alligator, Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumble Fish, Garry Marshall’s Flamingo Kid, Van Sant’s To Die For, and Bent Hamer’s Factotum, for which he received glowing reviews for portraying Charles Bukowski’s alter ego when the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Dillon displayed his versatility with an arresting performance co-starring as a racist cop in the critically acclaimed Paul Haggis film Crash. This role earned him Oscar, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice and BAFTA nominations and won him an Independent Spirit Award. In addition, the film earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Critics Choice Award for Best Ensemble.

Aside from being an accomplished actor, Dillon wrote, and made his feature film directorial debut with City of Ghosts, in which he also starred with Gérard Depardieu, Stellan Skarsgård, and James Caan. As The New York Times’ Film Critic A.O. Scott put it, “He seems to be getting better with every film.” We couldn’t agree more and are proud to honor Matt Dillon with our 2013 Excellence in Acting Award.

Parker Posey - 2012

Parker Posey’s rise to stardom began with a recurring role on the soap opera “As the World Turns.” Shortly after, she quickly secured a foothold with one-of-a-kind turns in some of the best Parker Posey - 2012 Excellence in Acting Awardindependent films of the 1990s including DAZED AND CONF USE D, PART Y GIR L, BASQUIAT, THE DAYTRI PPERS , CLOCKW ATC HERS , WAITING FOR GUFFM AN, and THE HOUSE OF YES , which garnered her a Special Recognition award from the Sundance Film Festival for her performance – and the unofficial honorific, the “Queen of the Indies” by the press.

In the 2000s she continued her winning streak with three more ensemble comedies directed by Christopher Guest – BEST IN SHOW (“Where’s Busy Bee?!”), A MIGHTY WIND and FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION – while turning in equally eyecatching dramatic performances in films like BROKEN ENGLISH, PERSONAL VELOCITY and THE ANNIVERSARY PARTY.

Parker soon crossed over to mainstream movies, with featured roles in YOU’VE GOT MAIL, BLADE: TRINITY, and SCREAM 3. Parker’s work also extends to the small screen and stage, with memorable turns in “Will & Grace,” “Boston Legal”, “The Simpsons,” and “The Good Wife.” On stage she was nominated for the Lucille Lortel Award for her performance in the Lanford Wilson revival of “Fifth of July”, and won the award for her role in “Hurlyburly” two years later.

In conversation with... CRAIG CHESTER, a pioneering actor in the independent film world, Craig garnered an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his role in Tom Kalin’s SWOON . His other acting credits include GRIEF, FRISK, I SHOT ANDY WARHOL, KISS ME GUIDO and ADAM & STEVE (PIFF 2005), which he also wrote and directed. An accomplished writer, St. Martin’s Press published his memoir “Why The Long Face: The Adventures of a Truly Independent Actor” which was recently developed as a series at Showtime. Commonly referred to as her ‘gay husband’, Craig met Parker at a party and within ten minutes realized they shared the same birthday. They’ve been friends ever since.

VERA FARMIGA - 2011

Vera Farmiga

Vera Farmiga continues to captivate audiences with her ability to embody each of her diverse and engaging roles. Her many credits include, DOWN TO THE BONE, THE DEPARTED, THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, JOSHUA, and UP IN THE AIR, for which she received nominations for an Academy Award, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe. Farmiga recently made her directorial debut with HIGHER GROUND, which opened to critical acclaim at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Tilda Swinton - 2010

Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton won an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award for her performance in Tony Gilroy's MICHAEL CLAYTON. She also received Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Award nominations for her portrayal.

In 2009 she won the Best Actress Evening Standard Award and was nominated by Les Cesars for her role as the eponymous lead JULIA. Ms. Swinton had earlier been a Golden Globe Award nominee for David Siegel and Scott McGehee's THE DEEP END, which also brought her an Independent Spirit Award nomination.

She starred in the Cohen Brothers' BURN AFTER READING and also in David Fincher's THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON.

A native of Scotland, Ms. Swinton started making films with the English director Derek Jarman in 1985, with CARAVAGGIO. They made several more films together, including THE LAST OF ENGLAND, THE GARDEN, WAR REQUIEM, EDWARD II (for which she was named Best Actress at the 1991 Venice International Film Festival), and WITTGENSTEIN, before Mr. Jarman's death in 1994.

She gained wider international recognition in 1992 with her portrayal of Orlando, based on the novel by Virginia Woolf under the direction of Sally Potter. Since then, her films have included Lynn Hershman-Leeson, CONCEIVING ADA and TEKNOLUST (in four roles); Susan Streitfeld's FEMALE PERVERSIONS; John Maybury's LOVE IS THE DEVIL; Robert Lepage's Possible Worlds; Danny Boyle's THE BEACH; Cameron Crowe's VANILLA SKY; Spike Jonze's Academy Award-winning ADAPTATION; David Mackenzie's YOUNG ADAM; two films costarring with Keanu Reeves, Mike Mills' THUMBSUCKER and Francis Lawrence's CONSTANTINE; Béla Tarr's THE MAN FROM LONDON; Andrew Adamson's two blockbusters THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA tales; and Erick Zonca's JULIA, which received its world-premiere at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival. And was released in the UK in December 2008.

2008 saw Ms. Swinton complete a role in Jim Jarmusch's new film THE LIMITS OF CONTROL, after she appeared in the writer/director's BROKEN FLOWERS. Most recently she filmed Luca Guadagnino's LO SONO L'AMORE (I AM LOVE), a love story shot entirely in Italian and Russian.

In the summer of 2008 Ms. Swinton launched the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams film festival in her hometown of Nairn, Scotland. In 2009 the festival returned as a mobile cinema that travelled from Kinlochlevan on the west coast of Scotland to Nairn on the east coast.

Alessandro Nivola - 2009

Alessandro Nivola

Alessandro Nivola's first professional leading role earned him a Drama Desk Award Nomination for his performance opposite Helen Mirren on Broadway in Turgenev's A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY. The following year he drew critical acclaim and a Blockbuster Award Nomination for playing Nicolas Cage's paranoid genius younger brother in John Woo's FACE/OFF. A series of roles in English movies followed, establishing him as one of the few Americans capable of playing British characters from all regions and classes. He starred as a Hastings fisherman opposite Rachel Weisz in Michael Winterbottom's I WANT YOU, played Henry Crawford in the Patricia Rozema adaptation of Jane Austen's MANSFIELD PARK, and a singing/dancing King Ferdinand of Navarre in Kenneth Brannagh's musical film of Shakespeare's LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST. Back in the U.S. he starred opposite Reese Witherspoon in BEST LAID PLANS, and played leading roles in JURASSIC PARK 3, and Mike Figgis' TIME CODE. He returned to the theater to play Orlando to Gwyneth Paltrow's Rosalind in AS YOU LIKE IT at Williamstown, before being reunited with Helen Mirren in the film THE CLEARING, this time playing her son rather than her lover as he had on stage. He earned an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for his performance as the rock singer Ian McNight in Lisa Cholodenko's LAUREL CANYON where he recorded the character's songs himself prompting Vogue magazine to write, "he sings Brit pop well enough to get a record deal." In 2006, he starred in JUNEBUG opposite Amy Adams, and in the Sundance audience award winner GRACE IS GONE opposite John Cusack, Recent films include Ridley Scott's mini-series THE COMPANY, the Lionsgate thriller THE EYE opposite Jessica Alba, and THE GIRL IN THE PARK opposite Sigourney Weaver and Kate Bosworth.

At the 2008 Toronto Film Festival, Alessandro headlined two upcoming films: FIVE DOLLARS A DAY, a father-son road movie opposite Christopher Walken, and WHO DO YOU LOVE?, a bio pic about the life of Chess Records founder Leonard Chess in which he plays Leonard.

Alessandro will next be seen as Boy Capel opposite Audrey Tautou in COCO AVANT CHANEL, a film about the early life of Coco Chanel, and in HOWL about the obscenity trial over the famous Alan Ginsberg poem of the same title.

He is a graduate of Yale University with a BA in English.

Gael García Bernal - 2008

Gael García Bernal

An actor nearly all his life, Gael García Bernal began performing in stage productions with his parents in Mexico, and later studied at the Central School for Speech and Drama in London.

Bernal then appeared in several plays and short films before his major feature film debut in Alejandro Gonzalez's Amores Perros, which was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2000. He gained more attention for Alfonso Cuarón's Y Tu Mamá También, where he starred opposite his close friend, Diego Luna.

He subsequently starred in the title role of Carlos Carrera's Academy Award-nominated El Crimen del padre Amaro [The Crime of Father Amaro]. Later Bernal was cast to play the revolutionary leader Che Guevara in Walter Salles's The Motorcycle Diaries.

Gael García Bernal also starred in Pedro Almodóvar's La mala educacíon [Bad Education]. Then worked on James Marsh's independent feature The King. And in Michel Gondry's "The Science of Sleep".

He also stars in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu "Babel," and in Hector Babenco's "El Pasado". After "Rudo y Cursi", he will star in Fernando Meirelles' "Blindness".

He founded the film production company Canana with Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz in 2005. Since then, they've produced "JC Chavez", "Deficit", "Cochochi" and presently in post production, "Voy a explotar". Together they also run the Ambulante documentary film festival, that travels around several cities in Mexico.

García Bernal made his directorial debut with "Deficit",a low-budget feature film shot in Mexico. He shot with Hector Babenco his movie El Pasado. Also this year he worked with Lukas Moodysson in his movie Mammoth as well as Rudo y Cursi directed by Carlos Cuaron and Blindness with Fernando Meirelles.

Gael García participated in the play Together with the Vesturport Theatre Group in Island and México.

Alan Cumming - 2007

Alan Cumming

Tony and Olivier Award winning actor Alan Cumming has enjoyed success in many acclaimed films (CIRCLE OF FRIENDS, TITUS, EMMA, URBANIA, EYES WIDE SHUT, SWEET LAND and NICHOLAS NICKLEBY) as well as crossing over to blockbusters such as SPY KIDS, X2 and GOLDENEYE. He can next be seen in TIN MEN, an original mini-series offering a new take on The Wizard of Oz, along with Richard Dreyfus and Zooey Deschanel. 

Lili Taylor - 2006

Dubbed the “first lady of the indie cinema” by Variety and “irreplaceable” by Roger Ebert, actress Lili Taylor has helped shape the American independent film movement. During a career encompassing nearly 40 films as well as notable TV shows and plays, she has worked  with today’s most innovative independent directors. From the start, Taylor would only accept roles she believed in—compelling characters in films with a measure of artistic integrity. As critics endlessly debate the definition of “independent film,” her work embodies the spirit of the term with an astonishing range and vitality.

Marcia Gay Harden - 2002

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