The University of Chicago News Office
Sept. 20, 2005 Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
(773) 702-6421

Filmmaker James Schamus opens 2005-2006 University of Chicago Presidential Fellows in the Arts Series

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James Schamus

A leading contributor to the American independent film business will headline the season opening event in the 2005-2006 University of Chicago Presidential Fellows in the Arts Series, a program that brings a cross-section of distinguished artists to the University of Chicago for residencies and offers the public a rare chance to experience eminent talent in an intimate setting. James Schamus — writer, producer and co-president of Focus Features who most recently collaborated with Ang Lee on the upcoming “Brokeback Mountain” — will present a sneak preview screening of one of his company’s forthcoming releases, offer reflections and take audience questions Thursday, Nov. 17, 2005 at 7 p.m. at Max Palevsky Cinema in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St., on the University of Chicago campus. Schamus’ visit is presented in collaboration with Doc Films. Founded in 1932, the University of Chicago’s Doc is the longest continuously running student film organization in the country.

Having worked on more than 100 films over the past 15 years, Schamus is widely regarded as one of the most important independent producers in the country. As co-founder of Good Machine, a New York independent production company, Schamus partnered with filmmakers such as Ang Lee, Todd Solondz, Nicole Holofcener, Pedro Almod—var and the Coen Brothers. Since 2002, as co-president of Focus Features, a division of Universal Pictures, he has overseen release of films such as Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries,” Fernando Meirelles’ “The Constant Gardener,” Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” and Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist.”

Schamus has also collaborated with Ang Lee on all of his feature films, and is reuniting with the director on “Brokeback Mountain,” which will be released later this year. The duo’s earlier films together include “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” which won four Academy Awards and Schamus co-wrote and executive produced; “The Hulk,” which Schamus also wrote and produced; “Ride with the Devil,” which he produced and adapted; “The Ice Storm,” which he produced and adapted, earning him the Best Screenplay prize at Cannes; “Sense and Sensibility,” which he co-produced; “Eat Drink Man Woman,” which he co-wrote and associate produced; “The Wedding Banquet,” which he co-wrote and produced; and “Pushing Hands,” which he produced.

In addition to his work in the film industry, Schamus teaches film theory and history at Columbia University, and is the author of a book to be published next year on Carl Dreyer’s film, “Gertrud.”

The Presidential Fellows in the Arts Series seeks to showcase the vibrant traffic between artistic theory and practice that takes place at the University of Chicago and to foster the vitality of the arts on its Hyde Park campus. The series, entering its second year, brings to the University a varied roster of distinguished artists from all arts disciplines for short residencies. These include a public presentation as well as a more intimate educational program for University students and faculty such as a workshop, seminar or master class. Each residency is organized and presented in collaboration with University of Chicago departments, centers and arts organizations. Last year, actress, professor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith and graphic artist Neil Gaiman inaugurated the series. As part of Schamus’ November residency, he will lead a critique of original student work with student filmmakers through the University’s Fire Escape Films, the student filmmaking organization, and lead a seminar with graduate students and faculty taking a critical look at his film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” through the Mass Culture Workshop, one of the University’s renowned interdisciplinary workshops for advanced students in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Tickets for Schamus’ appearance go on sale Monday, Nov. 7. Cost is $15 general, $5 students with valid ID. They can be purchased by calling (773) 702-8080, emailing or visiting the box office at 5720 S. Woodlawn Ave., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Persons with disabilities who believe that they may need assistance may call in advance of the event, (773) 702-8080.

The University of Chicago Presidential Fellows in the Arts Series is made possible through the support of the Arts Planning Council and the Office of the President, University of Chicago. Other events in the Series include a film retrospective of the documentary work of alumni Gordon Quinn and Jerry Blumenthal, whose Kartemquin Films created “Hoop Dreams,” and an extended, three-year residency with 500 Clown, a Chicago-based circus arts and improvisation performance group whose members will teach classes and lead seminars on subjects such as creative writing, adaptation and clown work, culminating with a major production in 2008.


WHO: James Schamus Filmmaker, writer, producer, co-president of Focus Features

WHAT: Special sneak preview screening, followed by a Q&A Season opener of the University of Chicago Presidential Fellows in the Arts Series

WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 17, 2005, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Doc Films Max Palevsky Cinema in Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St., University of Chicago

TICKETS: On sale Monday, Nov. 7, 2005 $15 (general) and $5 (students with valid ID) Phone: (773) 702-8080 Email: Visit: Box Office, 5720 S. Woodlawn Ave., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Last modified at 01:57 PM CST on Tuesday, September 20, 2005.

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