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Gus Van Sant to Receive Tribute at IFP's Gotham Awards

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.

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