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James Schamus


An integral contributor to the American independent film business for over a decade, James Schamus has the unique distinction of being an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and producer who is also a film executive.

He has had a long collaboration as writer and producer with Ang Lee, on nine feature films. Prior to Brokeback Mountain, the duo's earlier films together include The Hulk (which Mr. Schamus wrote and produced); Ride with the Devil (which Mr. Schamus produced and adapted); The Ice Storm (which Mr. Schamus produced and adapted, earning the Best Screenplay prize at the 1997 Cannes International Film Festival as well as WGA and BAFTA Award nominations); Sense and Sensibility (which Mr. Schamus co-produced); Eat Drink Man Woman (which Mr. Schamus co-wrote and associate-produced); The Wedding Banquet (which Mr. Schamus co-wrote and produced); and Pushing Hands (which Mr. Schamus produced).

Mr. Schamus is co-president, with David Linde, of Focus Features, a motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company committed to bringing moviegoers the most original stories from the world's most innovative filmmakers. The duo formed Focus in May 2002.

Prior to the formation of Focus, Mr. Schamus was co-president of the independent film production company Good Machine, which he co-founded in 1991. Mr. Schamus and his partners at the company produced over 40 films during an 11-year period, in partnership with filmmakers such as Mr. Lee, Todd Solondz, and Nicole Holofcener. Through its financing and distribution arm, Good Machine International, the company represented dozens more filmmakers, among them Pedro Almodóvar and the Coen Brothers. Good Machine was recently honored with a 10-year retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Mr. Schamus is also a screenwriter, and received Academy Award nominations in the Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Song categories for his work on Mr. Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The blockbuster Good Machine feature, which Mr. Schamus co-wrote and executive-produced, won 4 Academy Awards.

He executive-produced several Good Machine features that won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, including Edward Burns' The Brothers McMullen, Tom Noonan's What Happened Was…, and Todd Haynes' Poison. Among the other films that he executive-produced at Good Machine are Paul Schrader's AutoFocus, Gregor Jordan‘s Buffalo Soldiers, Todd Solondz' Happiness, Bart Freundlich's The Myth of Fingerprints, Cindy Sherman's Office Killer, Nicole Holofcener's Walking and Talking, and Todd Haynes' Safe.

Mr. Schamus is also Associate Professor in Columbia University's School of the Arts, and he currently serves on the boards of directors of Creative Capital and the Foundation for Independent Video and Film. He was the 1997 Nuveen Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Chicago, and received his Ph.D. in English from U.C. Berkeley in 2003.

He was honored with the NBC Screenwriter Tribute at the 2002 Nantucket Film Festival as well as with the Writers Guild of America, East's 2003 Richard B. Jablow Award for devoted service to the Guild.

Focus' top-grossing film to date is Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, which grossed over $100 million worldwide and won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The company's most-honored release to date is Roman Polanski's The Pianist, which won 3 Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Actor.

Focus' other celebrated releases have included two more Academy Award winners, Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Walter Salles' The Motorcycle Diaries; Todd Haynes' Far from Heaven; François Ozon's Swimming Pool; and Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams.