Outfest has announced that James Franco and Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper will receive the festival’s honorary awards.
Franco has been selected as the recipient of the inaugural James Schamus Ally Award, created to honor the efforts of an individual in bringing LGBTQ stories to the forefront. The award, given to a straight ally of the LGBTQ community, will be presented by Gus Van Sant to Franco prior to the Special Centerpiece screening of “King Cobra” on July 16 at the DGA.
“The only thing more moving to me than being honored by Outfest is having an honor named after me by Outfest,” said Schamus. “That James Franco will be the first recipient of this new award makes this doubly an honor. Also, this means I am really old.”
Franco said, “I am thrilled to have my name linked with such a Hollywood legend and someone who shepherded all kinds of stories. Nothing was beyond the pale for Schamus – he saw value and entertainment in it all. His work on ‘Wedding Banquet’ to ‘Brokeback Mountain’ to ‘Milk’ changed the landscape for queer cinema and I only hope to make such an impression.”
The presentation will be co-hosted by “King Cobra” director Justin Kelly and producers Scott Levenson and Jordan Yale Levine.
Cooper is the former Outfest Director of Programming. The Achievement Award will be presented by Rose Troche to Cooper prior to the festival’s opening night gala screening of “The Intervention” on Thursday at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles.
“Few people have had a larger role in launching the careers of independent filmmakers than John Cooper,” said Outfest Executive Director Christopher Racster. “For decades he has lead the way in promoting unique and diverse stories and storytellers – both within the LGBT community and without. Each of our stories matter and Cooper continues to give each one dignity by using Sundance as a platform to share them with the world.”
Previous recipients include John Cameron Mitchell, James Schamus, Kimberly Peirce, John Waters, Jane Lynch, Bill Condon, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, Don Roos, Todd Haynes, Christine Vachon and Gus Van Sant.
“It has been my good fortune to play a small part in building a community that discovers and celebrates great queer storytellers and launches their work out into the world,” Cooper said. “I am honored to receive this award from a vital and trailblazing organization like Outfest and in the company of so many others I admire.”