LOS ANGELES, Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The first annual Baja International Film Festival, to be held November 14-17 in Cabo, Mexico, has announced the inaugural year's award recipients. Awards will be presented to two-time Academy Award-nominee Edward Norton, Academy Award-nominee Virginia Madsen, iconic filmmaker and President of the Directors Guild of America Michael Apted, celebrated actor Diego Luna, Academy Award-winner Melissa Leo, acclaimed director Nicolas Echevarria, and Academy Award-nominee Matt Dillon. The Awards will be presented during the Baja International Film Festival's Closing Night Gala on Saturday, November 17th at the state-of-the-art Cabo Convention Center.
Edward Norton is a two-time Academy Award-nominated actor and filmmaker. He is also a committed social and environmental activist who serves on the Boards of: President Obama's Committee for the Arts and Humanities; Enterprise Community Partners (affordable housing); Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (conservation and community development); the Signature Theater Company; the Friends of the High Line and the Conservation Lands Foundation. He also created and endowed the Middle East Peacemakers Fund at Yale University. In 2010, he was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as the United Nations Ambassador for Biodiversity. He is the Co-Founder of CrowdRise, a web-based platform promoting and facilitating individual activism, peer-to-peer fundraising and innovative grassroots crowd-funding strategies for non-profits. CrowdRise was named by Barron's as a "Top 25 Global Philanthropist."
Virginia Madsen is an Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated actress, perhaps best known for her scene-stealing performance in SIDEWAYS, opposite Paul Giamatti and Thomas Hayden Church. She is also a documentary film producer; I KNOW A WOMAN LIKE THAT and FIGHTING GRAVITY. Throughout her career, she has easily transitioned between film and television, and has demonstrated a tremendous range in a variety of roles. Virginia Madsen has worked with some of the most lauded directors in the film industry, including David Lynch (DUNE), Dennis Hopper (THE HOT SPOT), Francis Ford Coppola (THE RAINMAKER) and Robert Altman (A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION).
Michael Apted is one of Hollywood's leading film directors, and serves as the current head of the Director's Guild of America. Among his honors, Mr. Apted was awarded the C.M.G. for his services to British film and television, and has received over 30 professional awards and nominations for his amazing body of work. He has directed over 70 film and television projects, and has directed three different actors to Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated performances, including Sissy Spacek in 'Coal Miner's Daughter,' Jodie Foster in 'Nell,' and Sigourney Weaver in 'Gorillas in the Mist.' His stellar directorial work also includes the standout films 'Blink,' 'The World Is Not Enough,' 'Enigma,' 'Enough,' 'Amazing Grace,' 'Class Action' 'Gorky Park,' 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,' and his newest film, 'Chasing Mavericks,' starring Gerard Butler and Jonny Weston.
Diego Luna is not only a formidable talent in Mexico, but one of the great actors of his generation. In addition to being a versatile actor, he has also established himself as a respected producer and filmmaker. Since childhood, he has moved in cinematic and theater circles, so his natural ease in front of the camera and original performances come as no surprise. In many ways, Diego Luna epitomizes what the festival itself aspires to: a Mexican talent who has made a dramatic and lasting impression on the world stage. He has collaborated with some of the industry's most admired directors, including Gus Van Sant and Steven Spielberg. It is a great honor to celebrate a talent that still has so much to offer to Mexican cinema, international cinema, and the movie-going public.
From her mesmerizing Academy Award-nominated performance in 'Frozen River' to her tour-de-force, Academy Award winning performance in 'The Fighter,' Melissa Leo has starred in over 25 films, and created some of the most memorable and fully realized characters on screen. Her rich and riveting work includes a wide range of deeply nuanced roles, from the role of Rachel in 'The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,' to her captivating and brilliant performance as Marianne in '21 Grams.' She has been nominated for over 50 industry awards, and won 35, including the Academy Award. She has created some of the most interesting and varied characters on screen, and defined what it means to be a versatile actor.
Nicolas Echevarria is an acclaimed Mexican film director and cinematographer. He has directed over 20 films since 1973. His acclaimed 1991 film "Cabeza de Vaca" played at the prestigious 41st Berlin International Film Festival. His films include "Life Kills" starring Daniel Gimenez Cacho and Susana Zabaleta, "Los Enemigos" starring Edgar Alexen and Farnesio de Bernal, "De La Calle," starring Alejandro Ainsle and Luis de Icaza, and many more.
Matt Dillon has acted in over 50 films, and is one of America's best known and most respected actors. His career spans three decades and showcases his tremendous range and versatility. He has worked with the film industry's most acclaimed directors, always delivering a nuanced and multi-faceted performance. He has worked twice with director Francis Ford Coppola, in the films 'The Outsiders' and 'Rumblefish,' with Garry Marshall in 'The Flamingo Kid,' with Arthur Penn in 'Target,' with Gus Van Sant in 'Drugstore Cowboy,' with James Deardon in 'A Kiss Before Dying,' with Anthony Minghella in 'Mr. Wonderful,' and with many more of Hollywood's leading directors. His role in the Farrelly brothers' 'There's Something About Mary' showcased his incredible comedic skills, and his vast and profound body of work has made him an icon in American cinema.
The Baja International Film Festival is also pleased to welcome special guests including Academy Award-Winner Octavia Spencer, 4-Time Emmy Winner Allison Janney, Chad Michael Murray, Billy Zane, Gael Garcia Bernal, Josh Lucas, Adrian Grenier, Natalie Morales, Rachel Leigh Cook, Kuno Becker, Mike Judge, Mark Polish, Maria Conchita Alonso, Jesse McCartney, Marisol Nichols, and writer/director Tate Taylor who will be participating in the week's festivities.
The Festival will showcase 80 films from 18 countries, including 5 international feature films in competition, 5 Mexican feature films in competition, 5 international documentaries in competition, 5 Mexican documentaries in competition, 30 international shorts, 13 Mexican shorts, 4 environmental films, as well as Special Presentation screenings of 7 international feature films, and 6 Mexican feature films. For more information on the official film schedule and schedule of events, please visit http://biff.festivalgenius.com/2012/.
The Baja International Film Festival would like to thank Advisory Board members Lucas Akoskin, Kuno Becker, Robin Bronk, Scott Budnick, Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, Isaac Masri, Alfonso de Maria y Campos Castello, Jacobo Turquie, Pablo Azcarraga, Godfrey Cheshire, Nancy Collet, Kerry David, Gill Holland, Lawrence Inglee, Adam Kassen, Mark Kassen, Alejandro Lebrija, William Mapother, Edward Norton, Carlos Reygadas, Roberto Rochin, John Burk, Mark Goldfarb, Kevin Greene, Meira Blaustein, and Rob Williams.
ABOUT THE BAJA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
The inaugural Baja International Film Festival is co-founded by Festival President Eduardo Sanchez Navarro, longtime patron of the arts in Los Cabos, BIFF Festival Directors Scott Cross and Sean Cross, co-founders of the Colorado Film Institute and Vail Film Festival, and business leaders and supporters of the arts Juan Gallardo, Alfonso Pasquel, Eduardo Sanchez Navarro Torres, Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, and Pablo Sanchez Navarro. Scott and Sean Cross also serve as the Festival's Artistic Directors alongside Jorge Sanchez Sosa, former director of the Guadalajara Film Festival. Nancy Collet, former Director of Programming at the American Film Institute, serves as Festival Senior International Films Programmer. The Baja International Film Festival will include four days of special presentations, competition screenings of feature films, documentaries, and short films, as well as nightly galas, panel discussions, filmmaker receptions, and award ceremonies. The festival is run by a bi-national team of experienced film and business managers who share a passion for bringing Mexican and U.S. cultures together through film. The Baja International Film Festival is supported by the Mexico Tourism Board and endorsed by the State of Baja California Sur and the Los Cabos Tourism Bureau as the Official Festival of Cabo, Mexico. For more information and to order tickets please visit: www.bajainternationalfilmfestival.com or email [email protected]
SOURCE Baja International Film Festival