American Cinematheque fetes Sundance director

At tonight’s American Cinematheque tribute to Samuel L. Jackson, the org will award its inaugural Sydney Pollack Award to Sundance Film Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore.

Cinematheque said the award honors “someone who has been of critical importance and continuing influence in nonprofit film exhibition, film preservation and/or independent film promotion and distribution –people whose work Sydney supported and found to be so valuable, who are not often recognized for their efforts.”

Cinematheque director Barbara Smith wanted to honor the memory of the late producer-director, who as a member of the board of directors for 24 years (1984 to 2008) and board chairman from 1985 to 1993, kept the wolf from the door on several occasions. Pollack was also a founding board member of the Sundance Institute and the Film Foundation.

The Sydney Pollack Award was “a long-term way of honoring him,” Smith said, “to honor someone not in the star firmament, but someone who works as hard behind the scenes as we do. Geoff Gilmore is that sort of person, who is making sure that people get to see movies.”

News of the award came out of the blue for Gilmore, who is in the thick of prepping his 19th fest in January.

The Sydney Pollack Award feels especially good, said Gilmore, who still teaches in the producing program at UCLA, because it comes from “someone who knows what it means to think about film culture and programming. If I’m good at what I do, a lot came from the education and knowledge I gained working at the Cinematheque all those years.”

The Award will be presented by current Cinematheque board chairman Rick Nicita at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

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