CineVegas will honor two actors, two directors and two video game design pioneers at the 2009 Festival, it was announced today by Trevor Groth, Artistic Director. Jon Voight will be given the Marquee Award, recognizing his artistic excellence, professional accomplishment and dedication to cinema. Willem Dafoe will be honored with the Vanguard Actor Award, which honors the distinctive mark he has made in film through his brave performances. The Vanguard Director Award will be given to George and Mike Kuchar, which recognizes their distinctive vision and ability to make films without compromise.
In addition, CineVegas will be honoring Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago with the inaugural Planet Illogica Award for Excellence in New Media. This award is for artists working in the realm of video gaming who have pushed the boundaries of storytelling in their field. The awards will be given out on Sunday, June 14 at the CineVegas Awards Reception, to be held at Rain Nightclub at the Palms Casino Resort.
“What an honor it is for CineVegas to have the opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of these esteemed actors, directors and artists at our 11th annual Festival,” stated Groth. “In addition to paying tribute to such powerful acting forces as Jon Voight and Willem Dafoe, as well as two pioneers of underground cinema the Kuchar Brothers, we are also proud to partner with Planet Illogica to award Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago, two revolutionaries in the video gaming design world, for their outstanding achievement in the world of new media and as trailblazers in a compelling new era of storytelling.”
Jon Voight has had a long and distinguished career as both a leading man and, in recent years, a character actor, with an extensive and compelling range in both film and television. He came to prominence at the end of the 1960s, with a performance as a would-be hustler in 1969’s Best Picture winner, Midnight Cowboy, for which he earned his first Academy Award® nomination. Throughout the following decades, Voight built his reputation with an array of challenging roles and has appeared in such landmark films as Deliverance, and Coming Home, for which he received an Academy Award® for Best Actor. Voight’s impersonation of sportscaster/journalist Howard Cosell, in the biopic Ali, earned him critical raves and his fourth Oscar® nomination. He is currently starring in the seventh season of 24 as the villain Jonas Hodges. As part of Voight’s tribute, CineVegas is proud to present the rare, newly re-mastered director’s cut of Lookin’ To Get Out (1982), directed by Hal Ashby, starring and co-written by Voight and filmed in Las Vegas. The screening will be followed by a special Q&A with Voight and guests.
Willem Dafoe is a two-time Academy Award® nominated actor and has appeared in over 70 films. He is also one of the founding members of The Wooster Group, the New York based experimental theatre collective, where he has created and performed in all the group’s work from 1977 to 2005, both in the U.S. and internationally. Some upcoming film releases include Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, Werner Herzog’s My Son My Son and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox as well as Day Breakers and Cirque du Freak. A conversation with Dafoe will be held on Sunday, June 14 at 3pm, followed by a screening of his 1982 film The Loveless.
The monarchs of homemade movies, the Kuchars impressed art world film kings like Stan Brakhage, Bruce Conner and Jonas Mekas, and influenced future film legends like Buck Henry and John Waters. Born in the 1940s, the brothers swooned over classic 1950s Hollywood. Borrowing their Aunt’s 8mm camera, George and Mike reinterpreted their neighborhood friends as Rock Hudson and Lana Turner types, wrote fantastic melodramas and genre stories, cobbled together props and costumes and set out into remarkably diverse locations around the Bronx. Their classic films include Hold Me While I’m Naked, Sins of the Fleshapoids and Summer of No Return. Now in their 60s, both have continued working with video, their projects numbering in the hundreds. A collection of new shorts by the Kuchar Brothers will be shown as part of their Vanguard Directors Award presentation on Sunday, June 14 at 9pm. In addition, Jennifer Kroot’s documentary about the brothers, It Came from Kuchar, will play in the Pioneer Documentaries section at this year’s Festival.
Kellee Santiago and Jenova Chen met each other while earning their MFA degrees at the University of Southern California Interactive Media program, housed in the School of Cinematic Arts. Santiago’s research focused on game design, interactive narrative, and physical and gestural interfaces for digital media. Chen was focusing on interactive animation and video game design when the two collaborated with a student team to develop the game, “Cloud.” “Cloud” went on to become critically acclaimed, after which the two decided to found their own studio, thatgamecompany, and landed a three game deal with Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc. to develop downloadable games for Playstation Network. Their most recent critically-acclaimed release, “Flower,” explores the tension between urban and nature, as you blow wind and fly petals across dream-like natural landscapes, and has been the top-downloaded game on the PlayStation Network.