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The Starz Denver Film Festival will honour Bill Pullman

The 31st Starz Denver Film Festival (SDFF) will honor an outstanding and wide array of talented film artists during the 11-day festival which kicks off November 13 and runs through November 23. Actor Bill Pullman will receive the Festival's prestigious John Cassavetes Award while Richard Jenkins will be presented with the Excellence in Acting Award. Additionally, SDFF will pay tribute to cinematographer Wally Pfister, Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi and Swiss filmmaker Thomas Imbach for their longstanding impacts on cinema.

"From the established, well recognized directors, actors and artists to the emerging filmmakers representing works from across the globe, we're so very proud to honor these individuals and share their work with our outstanding Festival audiences," said Britta Erickson, Festival Director of the Starz Denver Film Festival. "We are especially thrilled to present Bill Pullman the Cassavetes Award for his impressive career traversing independent and studio films and to recognize Richard Jenkins for his extensive and varied acting achievements."

Actor/Director Bill Pullman's film career spans nearly 50 feature films including blockbuster comedies (Ruthless People, Spaceballs, Casper), dramas (The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Accidental Tourist, Igby Goes Down), romantic comedies (Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping), action, (Independence Day), thrillers (Malice), westerns (The Virginian, Wyatt Earp), film noir (The Last Seduction, Lost Highway, The Zero Effect), horror (The Grudge), and a television mini-series (Revelations). The Virginian produced and directed by Pullman, won the Wrangler Award/Best Picture, 2000. Most recently, Pullman has been on screen in Bottle Shock (with Alan Rickman) and You Kill Me (with Ben Kingsley).

His distinguished theater work includes acting in the Broadway world premiere of Edward Albee's The Goat (Drama Desk nomination) and Albee's most recent production Peter & Jerry (Drama Desk nomination), as well as productions of new plays by Beth Henley (with Holly Hunter) and Thomas Babe (with Tom Waits).He was recently nominated for the Helen Hayes award for his work in the Kennedy Center production of The Subject Was Roses.

To be released in the coming year: The Nobel Son (with Alan Rickman), Your Name Here (a fantasia on the last days of author Philip K. Dick), Phoebe in Wonderland (with Elle Fanning and Felicity Huffman), and Surveillance directed by Jennifer Lynch (with Julia Ormond), winner of the Stiges Film Festival, Spain 2008.

"I'm honored to be the recipient of this year's Cassavetes Award - a distinguished award from a film festival that reinforces Denver's leadership for the West in the arts," said Bill Pullman.

The John Cassavetes Award was established in 1989 in collaboration with Gena Rowlands, his widow. It is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the world of filmmaking and whose work reflects the spirit of the late John Cassavetes. Previous recipients includ Steven Soderbergh, Sean Penn, William H. Macy, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins. SDFF will honor Bill Pullman by adding his name to this celebrated group of film artists on November 23 at the screening of his new film, Surveillance directed by Jennifer Lynch. Pullman will also be a special guest at the Mayor's reception on November 22.

Richard Jenkins has played a vast array of characters in his 30-year film and television career. He has regularly collaborated with the Farrelly Brothers (There's something about Mary; Me, Myself & Irene; Outside Providence; Say It Isn't So) and the Coen Brothers(The Man Who Wasn't There, Intolerable Cruelty; Burn After Reading). Jenkins fluidly moves between genres, as well as studio and independent films and creates unforgettable characters in his performances. His more notable film credits include Hannah and Her Sisters, The Witches of Eastwick, How To Make An American Quilt, Snow Falling on Cedars and North Country. He is best known for the five years in which he played the deceased father of the Fisher family on the critically acclaimed HBO drama series Six Feet Under. Jenkins and his castmastes received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2002. Widely recognized as an exceptional supporting actor, he recently played a critically acclaimed lead role in Overture Films' The Visitor.

Jenkins will be presented with the 2008 Excellence in Acting Award following a clips program featuring highlights from his distinguished career. "An Evening with Richard Jenkins" is sponsored by SAGIndie and the Screen Actors Guild and presented in cooperation with Denver Press Club and the Colorado Society of Professional Journalists - November 15 at 5:30 p.m.

"This year's award recipients truly resemble the cultural diversity, innovation and creativity as well as the international flavor that the Starz Denver Film Festival has worked to achieve throughout its first three decades," said Brit Withey, Artistic Director of the Starz Denver Film Festival. "We are extremely pleased to honor several of the most exceptionally gifted artists working in film today. Majid Majidi is without a doubt one of the greatest directors working anywhere in the world as is Wally Pfister in his groundbreaking achievements cinematography. Thomas Imbach represents a new voice with an uncompromising surrealist vision while Carolee Schneemann has provided a powerful, provocative voice in the film and art world for more than 40 years which embodies what we honor with the Stan Brakhage Vision Award."

Born in 1959, Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi started acting in amateur theater troupes at the age of 14, but developed an interest in cinema after the Islamic Revolution in 1978. From 1981 to 1993, he appeared in various films, most notably Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Boycott (1985). His first feature, Baduk, which he wrote and directed in 1992, was presented during the Directors' Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and won several awards in Iran. Since then, he has written and directed several films that have received worldwide attention, notably Children of Heaven (1997), which won Best Picture at the Montréal World Film Festival and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1999 Academy Awards-the only Iranian film to date to get the nod from Oscar. Majidi will appear at screenings of Children of Heaven on Nov. 14 at 9 p.m. and The Song of Sparrows on Nov. 15 at 3:15 p.m.

Acclaimed cinematographer Wally Pfister, ASC, will also be recognized for his talent and accomplishments at this year's festival. In 2005 and 2006, Pfister was nominated for Academy Awards for his cinematographic work on Batman Begins and The Prestige. His most recent work, The Dark Knight, marked Pfister's fifth collaboration with director Christopher Nolan. For the film, Pfister and Nolan innovatively used the IMAX format to heighten the audience's experience. Pfister will be on hand to introduce a special screening of Laurel Canyon on Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. and Insomnia on Nov. 16 at 1 p.m.

The self-proclaimed outsider of the Swiss film scene, which he says helps create the necessary distance for artistic independence, Thomas Imbach is a visionary who consistently takes risks as he moves into uncharted territory and consciously seeks cinematographic challenges. A self-taught filmmaker, Imbach has been directing, producing and editing films in Zurich, Switzerland since 1986. One of the first filmmakers to extensively use a consumer camcorder, while continuing to blend digital images with the classic 35mm film, Imbach's trademark style is a combination of cinema-verite camerawork and fast-paced computer-controlled editing. Happiness Is a Warm Gun (2001) marked a new phase in his career when he began incorporating professional actors and fictional elements to his documentary style of filmmaking. Imbach will introduce three of his films: Happiness Is a Warm Gun, on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.; Lenz, on Nov. 20 at 9:30 p.m.;and I Was a Swiss Banker, on Nov. 22 at 1:45 p.m.

Carolee Schneemann, a preeminent multidisciplinary artist, will receive the 2008 Stan Brakhage Vision Award during the program "An Evening with Carolee Schneemann," on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. Initially an abstract expressionist painter, Schneemann has tackled all media, including photography, film, video, installation, performance, various forms of print and the spoken word. Her work has been featured in major museums and galleries, including New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the London National Film Theatre.

The Stan Brakhage Vision Award is presented annually to film artists whose work celebrates Brakhage's courage, boldness, uncompromising integrity and vision. Phil Solomon, the recipient of the 2007 Stan Brakhage Vision Award and associate professor of film studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will present Schneemann with the award.

2008 SDFF DETAILS
The Starz Denver Film Festival, Nov. 13-23, will feature nearly 175 films representing the work of filmmakers from all corners of the globe. More than 150 film artists will be in attendance to introduce their works to enthusiastic Festival audiences.

For more information about the 31st SDFF and the full line-up of programs and films, please visit www.denverfilm.org.

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