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George Clooney to Receive Inaugural Spirit of Independence Award

At yhe upcoming Los Angeles Film Festival (June 16 – June 26) George Clooney will receive the inaugural Spirit of Independence Award, and the Festival premier sponsor has increased the cash prize of the Target Documentary Award to an unrestricted grant of $50,000.

On Saturday, May 14, the festival will celebrate these announcements at the 2005 Festival de Cannes on the Budweiser Yacht from 8:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.

The Spirit of Independence Award will be given to Clooney at a special event on June 25, 2005 sponsored by Target and In Style. Clips of Clooney’s work will be shown to an audience of the festival’s filmmakers followed by a conversation with Elvis Mitchell. This event is an opportunity for emerging filmmakers to hear Clooney speak about his creative process and influences.

“The Spirit of Independence Award was created to recognize an accomplished artist who’s charted his or her own course -- and George Clooney embodies this perfectly,” said Executive Director Dawn Hudson, Film Independent [FIND]. “George has used his stature to champion both daring and risky films outside the mainstream as an actor, director, and producer. We are thrilled to honor an artist who has taken risks in his career and produced so much quality work.”

The winner of the Target Documentary Award and the Target Filmmaker Award will be announced at the Spirit of Independence Award event. Committed to supporting new talent in the film industry, the Festival and Target through this partnership are able to award two promising directors with the Target Documentary Award and the Target Filmmaker Award -- each carrying an unrestricted $50,000 cash prize funded by Target. This year, the annual Target Documentary Award has been raised from a $25,000 unrestricted cash prize to an unrestricted $50,000 cash prize. In conjunction with the Target Filmmaker Award, the two awards now total $100,000 that will be awarded to filmmakers at the 2005 Los Angeles Film Festival, making it the single largest cash prizes bestowed by a North American film festival. Jonathan Caouette received the 2004 Target Documentary Award for his documentary, Tarnation. Ferenc Toth received the 2004 Target Filmmaker Award for his dramatic feature film, Unknown Soldier.

“This is an important endorsement from our festival partner Target, and speaks to the quality of the documentary films playing at the festival,” said Festival Director Richard Raddon commenting on the Target Documentary Award. “Some of the most interesting work is being done in the documentary world, and I am ecstatic that these filmmakers will be eligible for such a tremendous prize. Winning this grant can change a filmmaker's life and help support his or her career."

“This year, we have increased our Target Documentary Award by $25,000 because we know that many important and innovative subjects are being explored through the documentary genre,” said John Remington, vice president of communications for Target. “We doubled the award to reinforce our appreciation of independent artists and to equally support the important work that is being done in the documentary field as well as the ongoing artistry represented in feature films.”

The festival is sponsored by Premier Sponsors — In Style, Target, and Pop Secret; by Principal Sponsors —The Directors Guild of America and Eastman Kodak Company; and by Promotional Partner — the Los Angeles Times.
Special support provided by the National Endowment of the Arts. The Sofitel Los Angeles is the Official Host Hotel, American Airlines is the Official Airline Partner, and WireImage is the Official Photographer of the 2005 Los Angeles Film Festival.

The 2005 Los Angeles Film Festival will celebrate its Opening Night at two Los Angeles landmarks in Hollywood. Down in the Valley will screen at Arclight’s Cinerama Dome (6360 Sunset Blvd) followed by an Opening Night Gala at the Hollywood Palladium (6215 Sunset Blvd).

“We are thrilled to be opening the festival with this homegrown film in which the city itself is a major character,” said FIND and the Los Angeles Film Festival’s Director of Programming Rachel Rosen. “David Jacobson is a director with a truly independent vision and Down in the Valley exemplifies the kind of films we’re proud to present at the festival.”

A Los Angeles native, David Jacobson was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards for his previous feature, Dahmer, an emotional drama based on the life of Jeffrey Dahmer.

Starring Edward Norton, Evan Rachel Wood, David Morse, Rory Culkin, and Bruce Dern, Down in the Valley is a suspenseful crime story set at the edge of the San Fernando Valley, a seedy place of horse ranches and immigrant gangs, where ten-lane freeways converge to create a cultural no man’s land. A rebellious high school senior Tobe (Evan Rachel Wood) and her anemic 11-year old brother Lonnie (Rory Culkin) struggle to escape their grim and hopeless existence and their overbearing father, Wade (David Morse). Their hoped-for deliverance comes in the form of Harlan, a charming, yet mercurial man (Edward Norton) who thinks he’s a cowboy.
Everyone believes the fantasy Harlan has constructed except for Wade, and when he forbids Harlan's and Tobe's love affair, Harlan is pushed over the edge. As his dark side emerges, the hoped-for deliverance turns into chaotic violence. Tobe's and Lonnie's fantasies are dashed but their reality, in the end, seems more hopeful.

The Spirit of Independence Award was created to recognize and honor an individual who has remained true to their work and vision; someone who has consistently made and continues to make artistic choices regardless of difficulty; someone who has dared to think differently; and someone who stays true to their independent spirit through their work in the independent and studio worlds. Clooney embodies all three criteria through his work and collaborations as an actor, director, producer, and writer.

George Clooney has gone from acclaimed television actor to independent and blockbuster film star to flourishing executive producer and director.
Clooney is partnered with Steven Soderbergh in the film and television production company Section Eight, which will produce Clooney's next two projects - Syriana and Good Night, and, Good Luck. In Syriana, Clooney will play a CIA agent who fights terrorism and also serves as one of the film's producers. Syriana will be released nationally in September. Mr. Clooney co-wrote, directed and co-stars in Good Night, and, Good Luck, a feature about the renowned broadcaster Edward R. Murrow's legendary on-air confrontations with Senator Joseph McCarthy-- confrontations that helped bring down the infamous politician. Good Night was filmed in black and white, and will be released in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Clooney was an executive producer of two critically acclaimed Section Eight films, Warner Bros.' Insomnia and Focus Features’ Far From Heaven.
Section Eight also produced Oceans Twelve, Oceans Eleven, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Jacket, Full Frontal and Welcome To Collinwood.

Clooney made his directorial debut in 2002 with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (Miramax), for which he won the Special Achievement in Film award from the National Board of Review. Mr. Clooney starred in the Warner Bros. blockbuster hits Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean's Eleven. He also starred in the Coen brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Disney) and won the 2000 Golden Globe Award as Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
Mr. Clooney earned critical acclaim in the award-winning drama Three Kings (Warner Bros.) and in the Oscar-nominated Out of Sight (Universal). His previous feature films included Solaris (FOX), The Peacemaker (DreamWorks), Batman & Robin (Warner Bros.), One Fine Day (20th Century
Fox) and From Dusk Till Dawn (Miramax).

His unusual and varied choices reinforce Clooney’s commitment to groundbreaking and innovative independent films. He exemplifies a true independent spirit.

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