Early Independent Filmmaker and Screenwriting Icon to Receive Duke Leaf Award
Long-time creative independent John Sayles will receive the Duke LEAF ( Lifetime Environmental Achievement in the Fine Arts) Award, on Saturday April, 21st. The award recognizes artists whose work “has lifted the human spirit by conveying our profound spiritual and material connection to the Earth and thereby inspiring others to help forge a more sustainable future for all.”
Spanning a career as an author, filmmaker and screenwriter, Sayles’ projects are well known even though his name may not be. Beginning with the iconic Secaucus 7, a surprise success, he eventually did B movie screenwriting work for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. He initially penned Piranha and The Lady In Red and later (with a few directors who had developed in the Corman school) he penned The Howling and Alligator, two works that helped establish a new, more self-aware horror film tradition. Credited or not, he also worked in a myriad of genres–Western (The Quick and the Dead), historical thriller (Apollo 13), action (Men of War), monster flick (Mimic) along with romance, historical epics and animated features–crafting over sixty screenplays-for-hire over the years.
Before some of his more widely known later work he even managed to take time to direct videos for Bruce Springsteen. Then came Matewan (1987.) From there Sayles continued to explore different territory with each new project including Eight Men Out (1988), City of Hope (1990) and Passion Fish ( 1992) which won Sayles his first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. His work then continued outside the US film market with the critically acclaimed work The Secret of Roan Inish (1994), Lone Star (1996), which also garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Then there was Men With Guns (Hombres Armados, 1997), a political parable set in a fictional Latin American country (nominated as Best Foreign Language Film for the Golden Globes). With dialogue principally in Spanish, it remains one of the few instances where the long tradition of foreign directors coming to Hollywood and working in English has been reversed.
Still active, he started his most recent project Amigo in 2010 and continues to examine interesting film topics. In this case a historical war drama that tracks the fictional account of events during the Philippine-American War.
Congratulations on joining past winners Robert Redford and Jackson Browne in receiving this fine arts lifetime achievement award.