Director Gus Van Sant to Receive Tribute at IFP's 18th Annual Gotham Awards

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IFP also announces initiative with Hetrick-Martin Institute, home of the Harvey Milk HS, to support emerging LGBT filmmakers

Gus is that rare director who has achieved a steady balance between his independent roots and mainstream filmmaking, excelling at both while continuing to push the envelope with the same boundless creativity, curiosity, and passion on display in his earliest films

In recognition of his pioneering career which has helped break down the barriers between independent and mainstream film, IFP announced today that director Gus Van Sant will be presented with a Gotham Awards Tribute at the 18th Annual Gotham Awards™ on Tuesday, December 2nd in New York.

Presented by IFP, the nation's oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, the Gotham Awards™ is one of the leading awards for independent film and the first major honors of the film awards season. The awards provide critical early recognition for worthy independent films, such as past winners JUNO (2007), HALF NELSON (2006), and JUNEBUG (2005) - all of which went on to earn numerous awards and Oscar™ nominations for their stars Ellen Page, Ryan Gosling, and Amy Adams, respectively.

This year, Van Sant has directed the highly anticipated film MILK, about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to major public office in the United States. Starring Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna, and James Franco, the film will be released by Focus Features in select cities on Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 and then expand in December.

In recognition of Van Sant's fearlessness in using film to explore LGBT issues, IFP announced a new initiative aimed at inspiring the next generation of LGBT filmmakers. IFP is teaming with the The Hetrick-Martin Institute, home of the Harvey Milk High School in New York City. IFP, courtesy of Deloitte Financial Services LLP, is donating 45 video cameras to the school. IFP hopes to work with the producers of NewFest, The New York LGBT Film Festival, to create a series of training and mentoring sessions. Select works by youth members from The Hetrick-Martin Institute and students from Harvey Milk School will be invited to screen during the next edition of NewFest (June 4 - 14th, 2009). Additionally, school administrators and students will be on hand for a Q&A following a special screening of THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK, Rob Epstein's Academy Award™-winning 1984 documentary that received early support from IFP. The documentary will be screened as part of To Save and Protect: The 6th MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation on Thursday, November 6th.

As part of its tribute to Van Sant, IFP will also team with the Museum of Modern Art to present a public screening of MILK at the Museum on Wednesday, December 3rd.

"Gus is that rare director who has achieved a steady balance between his independent roots and mainstream filmmaking, excelling at both while continuing to push the envelope with the same boundless creativity, curiosity, and passion on display in his earliest films," said Michelle Byrd, executive director of IFP.

Van Sant first earned critical acclaim with his 1985 feature film debut, MALA NOCHE, which won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for Best Independent/Experimental Film. Since then, he has directed some of the most acclaimed independent films of the past two decades, including DRUGSTORE COWBOY, MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, TO DIE FOR, ELEPHANT, and PARANOID PARK. In 1998, he was nominated for an Oscar™ for Best Director for GOOD WILL HUNTING, which received eight other Academy Award™ nominations including Best Picture. His major studio credits include FINDING FORRESTER and a controversial shot-for-shot remake of PSYCHO.

IFP announced last month that Penélope Cruz will also receive a Gotham Awards Tribute. Additional honorees will be announced in the coming weeks.

Nominees for the 18th Annual Gotham Awards™ will be announced on October 20th, 2008, and winners will be honored at a star-studded ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on December 2nd. Submissions are now being accepted in five of the six competitive categories, including: Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Actor, Breakthrough Director and Best Ensemble Cast. Applications are available at http://gotham.ifp.org. The deadline for submissions is 5pm EST on Monday, September 22, 2008.

Sponsors of the 18th Annual Gotham Awards™ include Premiere sponsors The New York Times and Nokia and Presenting sponsors A DIAMOND IS FOREVER and Stella Artois. Additionally, the awards will be promoted nationally in an eight-page special advertising section in The New York Times this November.

About IFP
After debuting with a program in the 1979 New York Film Festival, the nonprofit IFP has evolved into the nation's oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, and also the premier advocate for them. Since its start, IFP has supported the production of 7,000 films and provided resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers--voices that otherwise might not have been 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 has fostered early work by leading filmmakers including Charles Burnett, Edward Burns, Jim Jarmusch, Barbara Kopple, Michael Moore, Mira Nair, and Kevin Smith.
For more information: http://www.ifp.org.

About the Gotham Awards™
The Gotham Awards™, selected by distinguished juries and presented in New York City, a 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.

About The Hetrick-Martin Institute

The Hetrick-Martin Institute, Home of the Harvey Milk High School, believes all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential. Hetrick-Martin creates this environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth between the ages of 12 and 21 and their families. Through a comprehensive package of direct services and referrals, Hetrick-Martin seeks to foster healthy youth development. Hetrick-Martin's staff promotes excellence in the delivery of youth services and uses its expertise to create innovative programs that other organizations may use as models. For more info: http://www.hmi.org

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