Michael Barker and Tom Bernard were honoured with the Game Changer Award at the Zurich Summit. At the industry event of the 18th Zurich Film Festival on Sunday evening, the two Sony Pictures Classics co-founders and co-presidents accepted the award in person for their achievements in the film industry and for their services to cinema.
With the Game Changer Award, the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) recognises outstanding achievements in the film industry with a focus on leaders who not only drive change in the industry but also embody the DNA of cinema – like Michael Barker and Tom Bernard.
Michael Barker and Tom Bernard are Founders and Co-Presidents of Sony Pictures Classics, which was founded in 1992 and celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. They have won over 40 Oscars and done much to promote diversity in cinema – long the topic on everyone’s lips.
“With our Game Changer Award, we now want to honour two outstanding industry heroes who know how to draw attention to the seventh art,” explained Christian Jungen, Artistic Director of the Zurich Film Festival, in his laudation at the Summit Dinner. “Michael and Tom have helped many international auteur filmmakers such as Asghar Farhadi, Pedro Almodovar or Maren Ade break through in the US and bring the best of American independent cinema to the world,” stated Jungen and added that “they always put the directors at the centre and do everything they can to bring their artistic vision to the screen. Others only listen to the ringing of the box office, they always listen to the directors – and succeed precisely because of that.” The award ceremony took place during the Summit Dinner. In the audience sat many companions of Michael Barker and Tom Bernard such as Asghar Farhadi, Liam Neeson, Neil Jordan, Christine Vachon, Roeg Sutherland, Oliver Hermanus as well as Eddie Redmayne, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Rebel Wilson.
The two pioneers were very pleased about the Game Changer Award and are impressed by the Zurich Film Festival. They said that they were not aware that they had been working in the industry for so long. It is so nice to see familiar faces here now, said the two studio bosses.
Michael Barker said: “I’ve been to the Zurich Film Festival a few times since the first edition. It’s great to be honoured here. Because the ZFF not only shows the best films, it has always provided a stage for business people. You meet so many people here: cinema operators, producers, distributors, financiers. I’ve also made a lot of new acquaintances here.” Barker continued: “When we met Christian Jungen and he offered us the Game Changer Award, we hesitated at first, we didn’t want to make ourselves important. But when he said it was about the films we produced and released over the 30 years, it was clear to us: we’d gladly accept the award.”
Tom Bernard added: “It’s pretty cool to be recognised by the Zurich Film Festival because the festival specialises in quality films and shows great work. This award is for all the films we have gathered over the 30 years. It is a recognition of our work.”
The awards ceremony marked the end of the two-day Zurich Summit, which took place at the Dolder Grand over the weekend and brought together leading producers, financiers, sales executives and creatives from the film, television, entertainment and technology sectors.
At the boutique conference, Barker and Bernard spoke about their careers, future goals and the importance of cinema today. The two pioneers also expressed being extremely touched and impressed by the Zurich Film Festival. Executives in attendance included former Lionsgate film chief Patrick Wachsberger, producer Christine Vachon, HFPA president Helen Hoehne, CEO and founder of Neon Tom Quinn, Co-founder and CEO of Memento international and Paradise City Emilie Georges, Le Grisbi Productions founder and president John Lesher and many more.
The complete programme of the 18th Zurich Film Festival (22 September to 2 October) is available on the ZFF website. Since Thursday, the Festival Centre at Sechseläutenplatz has been open for tickets and information. Tickets can be purchased on the ZFF website.