The Zurich Film Festival honours the two American studio bosses this year for their services to film culture. The two founded Sony Pictures Classics exactly 30 years ago, and popularised auteur filmmakers such as Asghar Farhadi, Wim Wenders and Pedro Almodóvar. They have won more than 40 Academy Awards and championed diversity in cinema long before the topic became fashionable.
The Game Changer Award is presented during the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) to personalities from the film industry in recognition of their outstanding achievements within the industry. This year, the Game Changer Award will be presented to Michael Barker and Tom Bernard. The two founders and Co-Presidents of Sony Pictures Classics will accept the award on Sunday, September 25 during the Zurich Summit Dinner. Sony Pictures Classics was founded by the duo in 1992 and celebrates its 30-year anniversary this year.
Barker and Bernard’s Sony Pictures Classics aims to distribute thought-provoking, high-quality feature films and documentaries and promote the signature style of talented filmmakers. “Sony Pictures Classics is synonymous amongst film fans with intelligent auteur cinema,” explains Christian Jungen, ZFF Artistic Director. “Michael and Tom have been producing and distributing sophisticated entertainment for the last 30 years. They have introduced such great European auteurs as Almodóvar, Wenders and Maren Ade to the American public, and given the best of American independent cinema to the world. Others have come and gone – they have remained for 30 years, successful and loyal to cinema. We want to honour this achievement with our award.”
“In addition to helping the successful launch of many important movies the Zurich Film Festival has always been a great place to meet, engage, and exchange ideas with filmmakers, distributors, and exhibitors. This award puts the focus on 30 years of Sony Pictures Classics movies and the talented filmmakers who made them. In our opinion, they are the real game changers and we share this award with them. Thank you Zurich Film Festival for the honor.” said Michael Barker and Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics.
To date, Michael Barker and Tom Bernard have received 183 Academy Award Nominations (70 of which were films by women) and scooped 41 Academy Awards.
The list of the studio’s best-known films includes titles like CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, THE FATHER, WHIPLASH, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, HOWARDS END and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. “Sony Pictures Classics has also done a huge amount for diversity in the film industry and led titles like the gay love story ‘Call Me By Your Name’ or the trans-themed ‘Una mujer fantastica’ to success – long before diversity was a dictate of the times,” explains Christian Jungen. Many titles from Sony Pictures Classics have also screened at Zurich Film Festival in recent years.
Honors bestowed on Barker and Bernard include the Honors Award from the Directors Guild of America, the FINDIE Spirit Award in Los Angeles, the GLAAD Media Award, the Gotham Industry Lifetime Achievement Award from the Independent Feature Project in New York, Outfest’s Legacy Award, and the Spirit of Independence Award from Film Independent at the Los Angeles Film Festival. They were awarded the esteemed French Legion of Honor from the French government and The Women in Film Beacon Award from Women in Film Los Angeles in recognition of their unmatched support of female filmmakers throughout their careers.