Renaissance man (actor/producer/director) Forest Whitaker will be presented with the Actor Tribute at the 23rd Gotham Independent Film Awards, which will take places at a ceremony on December 2 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York.
"We are thrilled to pay honor to a man whose work has played a significant role in the film world over the last 25 years," said Joana Vicente, executive director of the Independent Filmmaker Project, the organization that presents the awards. "Breaking boundaries and challenging audiences with complex, multifaceted roles, Forest Whitaker is a significant independent voice whose performances have only been elevated by his visionary work as a producer, director and humanitarian."
A well deserved tribute to a man who's had quite a year, both in front of and behind the camera. Let me count the ways: In addition to being instrumental in the production of critical fave Fruitvale, the long-in-development Richard Pryor biopic is now in his hands (as producer); also CodeBlack Films picked up US distribution rights to a thriller he directed and stars in, titled Repentances (previously titled Vipaka) - a southern gothic, psychological thriller. Whitaker's been especially busy on the other side of the lens, starring in films like Fox Searchlight's Black Nativity, a musical drama directed by Kasi Lemmons; the film that closed the 66th Cannes Film Festival in May, where it made its World Premiere - Zulu - which he stars in with Orlando Bloom (a crime caper set in a Cape Town, South Africa, which is based on French author Caryl Férey’s award winning novel of the same name); he'll be playing Martin Luther King Jr in Paul Greengrass' MLK assassination pic, Memphis; he co-stars with alongside Michael Chiklis and Ray Liotta, in the crime drama titled Pawn; and he's teaming up with Oscar-nominated Algerian filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb to star in one of a trilogy of English-language films that will explore the complex relationship between the west and the Arab world; and of course his role in Lee Daniels' The Butler has been attracting praise and Oscar chatter; He's attached to play Colin Powell's in a feature film that tells the behind-the-scenes story of how the then-Secretary of State addressed the U.N. and made the case for war in Iraq. And finally he's also attached to play Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a project by Roland Joffe, titled The Archbishop And The Antichrist.
And there's more...
The nominees for the Gotham Independent Film Awards will be announced on October 24.
Previous Gotham honorees include Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Charlize Theron and Kate Winslet.
One of my favorite Forest Whitaker performances was in Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, in which Whitaker plays a hitman in the employ of the Mafia, who follows the ancient code of the samurai. The film is a homage to Jean-Pierre Melville's 1967 film Le Samouraï.