In a ceremony at the 10th annual Traverse City Film Festival on August 3, Ira Deutchman, Chair of the Film Program at Columbia University School of the Arts, received the Visionary Award, a Founders Prize given each year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of cinema. Previous recipients of the award have included filmmakers Mark Cousins, Michael Apted and Wim Wenders.
Filmmaker and film festival founder Michael Moore, who presented the award, recognized Deutchman as “a friend and advisor to independent filmmakers who has helped shepherd many films--beginning as far back as the 80’s--through the process of distribution; you filmmakers out there know how hard that is. He has nurtured and advanced the presentation of great films that might not have otherwise been seen by the broader public.”
“A few years ago,” Moore added, “Ira started a company called Emerging Pictures, with the goal of using new technologies to bring these kinds of movies to a broader audience that would not be exposed to such work otherwise.” He went on to call Deutchman a pioneer of digital delivery to movie theaters, a process that he noted has now been adopted worldwide and popularized by the Metropolitan Opera. Moore, who had announced earlier in the festival that the Traverse City Film Festival would be undertaking a new initiative to beam a film monthly to theaters nationwide, expressed the hope that Deutchman would be working with him on it.
Deutchman was not given advance notice of the honor, but took a moment to accept the award “on behalf of the people behind the scenes—the exhibitors, distributors, marketers, publicists—those who work so incredibly hard to get great independent, foreign and documentary films seen by as many people as possible.” He observed, “It’s extraordinary, on a certain level, that I’ve done this for 40 years and never lived in Hollywood and never worked for a studio. I don’t know why that happened, but I have to thank my family for putting up with not having had that swimming pool.”
Click here for a biography of Ira Deutchman.