Barbara Kopple is a director and producer of narrative films, documentaries and commercial spots, she most recently completed the documentary, A Murder In Mansfield. The film examines the after affects of a murder trial in the 1990’s where a son testified against his father for the murder of his mother, and will premiere at the 2017 DOC NYC Film Festival. Kopple produced and directed This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, which chronicles the life and family of Internet sensation Gigi Gorgeous, and had its premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Miss Sharon Jones!, premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and was the opening night film at DOC NYC. It follows the talented and gregarious soul singer of the Grammy-nominated R&B band Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings during the most challenging year of her life and received a 2017 Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary.
Mira Nair is the rare prolific filmmaker who fluidly moves between Hollywood and independent cinema. After several years of making documentary films, Mira Nair made a stunning entry onto the world stage with her debut feature film Salaam Bombay! in 1988. Now hailed as a classic, the film has received more than 25 international awards including an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and the Caméra d’Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2001, Monsoon Wedding won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and became one of the highest grossing foreign films of all time. She recently finished directing the Disney production Queen of Katwe starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelwo. The film is based on the true story of the Ugandan chess prodigy, Phiona Mutesi. She is also working on the musical adaptation of Monsoon Wedding which is scheduled to open on Broadway in 2016.
Jodie Foster’s stunning performances as a rape survivor in The Accused and as Special Agent Clarice Starling in the hit thriller The Silence of the Lambs earned her two Academy Awards® for Best Actress and a reputation as one of the most critically acclaimed actresses of her generation. In total, Foster has appeared in more than 40 films. Foster made her motion picture directorial debut in 1991 with the highly acclaimed Little Man Tate, in which she also starred. Foster founded Egg Pictures in 1992 and the company produced Nell, for which Foster earned an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actress. Audiences recently saw Foster in Elysium opposite Matt Damon. Her upcoming directing project will be the thriller Money Monster starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts.
During almost 30 years in the motion picture business, Sherry Lansing was involved in the production, marketing, and distribution of more than 200 films, including Academy Award winners Forrest Gump(1994), Braveheart (1995), and Titanic (1997). Throughout her film career, Lansing earned a reputation as a trailblazer, a visionary leader, and a creative filmmaker. In 1980, she became the first woman to head a major film studio when she was appointed President of 20th Century Fox. Later, as an independent producer, Lansing was responsible for such successful films as, Fatal Attraction, The Accused, School Ties, Indecent Proposal, and Black Rain. Returning to the executive ranks in 1992, she was named Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures and began an unprecedented tenure that lasted more than 12 years (1992 – 2005).
Gale Anne Hurd is one of the industry’s most respected and innovative film and television producers. Over the course of her career, Hurd has developed and produced films that routinely garner Academy Award nominations, and TV programs that win Emmys and shatter ratings records. By continually selecting daring material, championing technological innovations, and remaining hands-on in her approach, Hurd has carved out a leading position in the previously male-dominated world of the blockbuster, and become a recognized creator of iconic cultural touchstones. After a successful rise from Roger Corman’s executive assistant to head of marketing, Hurd’s production career launched with the production of The Terminator. This success was quickly followed with Aliens, which received seven nominations and two Academy Awards, and the Oscar-winning films The Abyss and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Julia Barry accepted the award on behalf of her mother, Laura Ziskin (1950-2011)
About Laura Ziskin
Consistent with Laura’s legacy, The Laura Ziskin Lifetime Achievement award is given to a woman in the film industry whose leadership demonstrates vision and courage and sets a standard for other women to emulate. An extraordinary woman, Laura Ziskin (1950 – 2011) used her talents, indefatigable energies, and standing in the industry to make wonderful movies and to improve the lives and health of women. One of Hollywood’s leading independent producers and studio executives who was able to penetrate the inner circle of A-list producers, for decades considered an all-boys club, Ziskin produced numerous films during her career beginning with the 1985 film Murphy’s Romance to No Way Out with the then-newcomer Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman. A string of hits followed including Pretty Woman, one of the most successful films in Disney’s history which she executive produced in 1990.
In 1994, Ziskin was named President of Fox 2000 Pictures, a newly formed feature film division of 20th Century Fox. Under her stewardship, Fox 2000 released such films as Courage Under Fire, One Fine Day, Anna and the King and The Thin Red Line, which garnered seven Academy Award® nominations including Best Picture. Ziskin also produced the Academy Awards® on two separate occasions, earning multiple Emmy nominations for her work.
She was perhaps best known for her role in producing one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood, the Spiderman Films. Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 are among the highest grossing films in history. Her last film, The Amazing Spiderman was released in 2012.
“Movies are arguably the most influential, important medium in the world. They have a tremendous cultural impact. Because women are now making movies, then women’s ideas, philosophy, point of view will seep into that culture. And that’s never happened in history. Ever, ever, ever. We can’t even see the impact of that yet.”
Laura Ziskin used her standing, her relationships with Hollywood executives and stars to give back to others. After being diagnosed with breast cancer she, along with Katie Couric and former Paramount head Sherry Lansing, created Stand Up to Cancer, a research and advocacy organization. Ziskin produced the historic Stand Up to Cancer television show that was simultaneously televised on all major networks, raising millions for the organization. And she told her story, repeatedly, so that other women suffering from this horrific disease would know that they are not alone.