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Michael Kutza To Receive the American Cinematheque's Sydney Pollack Award

CHICAGO (November 2) - American Cinematheque Chairman Rick Nicita, will present Chicago International Film Festival Founder and Artistic Director Michael Kutza with the 2012 Sydney Pollack Award on November 15, 2012. The award will be given at the Cinematheque’s Annual Fundraising Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, California. which will honor actor/director Ben Stiller.

“The Sydney Pollack Award honors someone who has been of critical importance and continuing influence in non-profit film exhibition, film preservation and/or independent film distribution - people whose work Sydney supported and found to be so valuable, who are not often recognized for their efforts. And there’s no one who better represents Sydney’s commitment to the art of film than Michael,” said Rick Nicita.

“I am honored by this recognition. Sydney was a dear friend of the Chicago International Film Festival from the mid-80s on, helping us with our film tributes,” said Michael Kutza. “No matter what he was doing he would always make time to listen and share ideas with me, fueling my own passion for cinema.”

About the Sydney Pollack Award
The Sydney Pollack Award is presented by the American Cinematheque in honor of Sydney Pollack (1934-2008) whose long-standing support and early leadership on the Cinematheque Board of Directors was instrumental in ensuring the Cinematheque’s future.  He was a member of the Board of Directors for 24 years (1984 to 2008) and served as Chairman of the Board from 1985 to 1993.

His involvement with the American Cinematheque grew out of his belief in the importance of the proper exhibition of all kinds of films - old and new, American, foreign, independent, etc., in an atmosphere that encouraged a dialogue between filmmakers and the audience.  He was also very aware of the importance of film preservation and independent filmmaking, and was a founding Board member of The Sundance Institute and the Film Foundation.  

The 2008 Sydney Pollack Award was presented to Geoffrey Gilmore, who was Director of the Sundance Film Festival when he received the award. The 2010 Sydney Pollack Award was presented to Tom Luddy, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Telluride Film Festival.

About Michael Kutza
Michael Kutza is an award-winning filmmaker, a graphic designer and the Founder and Artistic Director of the Chicago International Film Festival. In addition, he has been involved in other film festivals internationally, in such diverse locations as Taormina, Tehran, Moscow, Manila, Bogota, Los Angeles, Cannes, Berlin and Jerusalem, and has served as an advisor to a number of other festivals, including the Berlin International Film Festival and the Locarno International Film Festival. From 1979 to 1991, he served Italian journal II Tempo as its American film correspondent.

In 1964, Michael Kutza founded the Chicago International Film Festival, subsequently serving as its director. Through its early years, Kutza personally screened and selected the films that would be shown at the Festival. It was during this period, in 1967, that Kutza viewed and selected for its world-premiere I Call First, the first film of director Martin Scorsese, which would later be expanded and rereleased as Who's That Knocking at My Door.

Kutza has received a number of honors for his cultural achievements. Among them, in 1972, Kutza received the Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival and in 1978 the Chicago Sun-Times' "Exceptional Contribution to Chicago" award. In 1985, Jack Lang, then the French Minister of Culture, bestowed the Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres upon him during the Cannes Film Festival for his work in promoting the fine arts.
In 1995, he was a member of the jury at the 45th Berlin International Film Festival. In 1996, the city of Chicago honorarily designated S. Michigan Ave. from Van Buren to Congress as "Michael J. Kutza Way." In 2009, Kutza was honored by the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois as one of its "Legendary Landmarks", a title bestowed on "citizens who have made contributions to the civic and cultural life of Chicago and Illinois." In 2010, Kutza accepted the "Media Award" from the Niagara Foundation's Peace & Dialogue Awards. The same year, Chicago Magazine included Kutza on their list of "Top 40 Chicago Pioneers," alongside Oprah, President Barack Obama, Studs Terkel, Roger Ebert, and Gene Siskel.

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About American Cinematheque

Established in 1981, the American Cinematheque is a 501(c)3 non-profit viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all of its forms. At the Egyptian Theatre, the Cinematheque presents daily film and video programming which ranges from the classics of American and international cinema to new independent films and digital work. Exhibition of rare works, special and rare prints, etc., combined with fascinating post-screening discussions with the filmmakers who created the work, are a Cinematheque tradition that keep audiences coming back for once-in-a-lifetime cinema experiences. The American Cinematheque renovated and reopened (on Dec. 4, 1998) the historic 1922 Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. This includes a state-of-the-art 616-seat theatre housed within Sid Grauman's first grand movie palace on Hollywood Boulevard. The exotic courtyard is fully restored to its 1922 grandeur. The Egyptian was the home of the very first Hollywood movie premiere in 1922. In January 2005 the American Cinematheque expanded its programming to the 1940 Aero Theatre on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.