Disney's Frozen, written and co-directed by Columbia Film alumna Jennifer Lee ('05), won two Academy Awards—Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.
Frozen has garnered widespread critical acclaim since its release in November 2013. It has received an overwhelming number of awards and nominations, including the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature and the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature. Lee's success at creating complex characters was also recognized by Variety, which named her one of the "10 Screenwriters to Watch" for 2013.
In a recent interview with Popsugar, Lee named two Columbia Film faculty members as her mentors: "There were two professors, Andy Bienen, who wrote Boys Don't Cry, and Eric Mendelsohn — Judy Berlin was one of the films; he won Sundance for that — and I just saw them in New York last weekend. I still have all their notes from class on my desk."
Lee will be presented with the Sarris Award at this year's Columbia University Film Festival, which runs from May 2 - 8. The award, named for School of the Arts Film Program professor and world-renowned critic and theorist Andrew Sarris, honors outstanding service by and artistic achievement of distinguished Film Program alumni. The annual winner is selected by current School of the Arts Film Program students. Past recipients include Adam Davidson ('91), Malia Scotch Marmo (’88), Greg Mottola (’91), Albert Berger (’83), Kathryn Bigelow (’81), Lisa Cholodenko (’97), Simon Kinberg (’03), Kimberly Peirce (’96), James Mangold (’99) and Nicole Holofcener (’88).
"My love to everyone at Columbia," Lee said. "You all taught me everything I know."
This year's Oscar nominees and winners also included other Columbians. Columbia College alumna Dede Gardner ('91 CC) co-produced Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave, which received nine nominations in all. Lupita Nyong'o won the Best Supporting Actress award for her performance in the film, and writer John Ridley won in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Nebraska, produced by Albert Berger ('83), received six nominations. Recent adjunct faculty member David Riker co-wrote Best Documentary nominee Dirty Wars with producer Jeremy Scahill. Dallas Buyers Club, which was produced by Focus Features, then headed by faculty member James Schamus, received six nominations, including Best Picture; Jared Leto won for Best Supporting Actor and Matthew McConaughey won for Best Actor.
Jennifer Lee was interviewed on March 21, 2014 by Norah O'Donnell for CBS This Morning. Watch the full interview below: