1996 Distinguished Achievement Award
This year we honor filmmaker Alan J. Pakula for his many contributions to the world of cinema. In a cinematic climate where morality is often discarded in favor of what will sell, Alan J. Pakula's films have always been about compassion in the face of human frailty, and commercialism has not been his concern. Alan J. Pakula chooses his projects with great care, and oversees every aspect of the filmmaking process. Moreover, we honor Alan J. Pakula as a consummate visual artist, a filmmaker who has an unerring sense of how to tell complicated, emotionally resonant stories throughout the images he creates. Alan J. Pakula began his career as a producer. After twelve years of producing - including such notable films as the classic examination of racism, To Kill A Mockingbird -he turned to directing in 1969. His work since then has been wildly diverse in subject and approach. It ranges from the political (All the President's Men) to the personal (Sophie's Choice), from western (Comes A Horseman) to whodunnit (Presumed Innocent), from psychological thriller (Klute) to sophisticated comedy (Starting Over).
Yet all of his films bear a recognizable signature. Pakula always brings us close to his protagonists, revealing them in all their flawed, vulnerable humanity. After watching Klute, we feel as if we've come to know call girl Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda) with an intimacy that few contemporary films achieve. (It's no coincidence that Pakula directed both Fonda and Meryl Streep to their first Best Actress Oscars.) Pakula's film are often concerned with the plight of the individual against an unpenetrable, unfeeling system, as in his cult classic The Parallax View. And every Pakula movie displays his mastery of cinematic form. His instinct for the right place to put the camera in any scene has yielded memorable images like "Deep Throat" shadowed in the blue light of the underground garage in All the President's Men, or the simple haunting shot of Greta Scacchi's sideways face against the pillow in Presumed Innocent.
Pakula is currently finishing The Devil's Own, a thriller starring Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt.
Fear Strikes Out, 1957 (producer)