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Posted August 12, 2008

/Trail-blaz-er /: an innovative leader in a field; a pioneer

(Woodstock, NY) August 6th, 2008 – Focus Features CEO and award-winning writer/producer James Schamus will be honored with the Trailblazer Award at the 9th annual Woodstock Film Festival (WFF) on October 4th.

“We are honored and delighted to be presenting James Schamus with the 2008 Trailblazer Award,” said Meira Blaustein, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the festival. “The award was created with the intention of honoring those who have taken an innovative and transforming approach in the film industry. Mr. Schamus surpasses those objectives. The fact the he has exhibited excellence in both business and creativity sets him apart from all his peers.”

Mr. Schamus commented, “I’m touched to be receiving this honor from one of my very favorite film festivals – one that carries on the spirit of adventure and discovery that characterizes its hometown.”

Mr. Schamus is chief executive officer (CEO) of Focus Features and Professor in Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he teaches film history and theory. An integral contributor to the American independent film business for over two decades, he has the unique distinction of being an award-winning screenwriter and producer who is also a film executive.

He is a Golden Globe Award winner and multiple Academy Award nominee for his screenwriting and songwriting (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and producing (Brokeback Mountain); among his other honors, he was awarded the prize for Best Screenplay at the 1997 Cannes International Film Festival for The Ice Storm. He has had a long collaboration as writer and producer with Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee on ten feature films, including the recent Lust, Caution.

This month, Focus begins location filming on the 1969-set true story Taking Woodstock, directed by Mr. Lee. Mr. Schamus has written the screenplay, which is an adaptation of Elliot Tiber’s memoir Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, A Concert, and A Life.

Focus, formed in May 2002, is 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 company’s Oscar-winning films have included Brokeback Mountain, The Pianist, Lost in Translation, The Constant Gardener, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Motorcycle Diaries, and Atonement.

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 Ang Lee, Todd Solondz, and Nicole Holofcener. Good Machine was recently honored with a 10-year retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Mr. Schamus’ other honors include being named the 2006 Presidential Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Chicago, and receiving the Writers Guild of America, East’s 2003 Richard B. Jablow Award for devoted service to the Guild.

The Trailblazer Award will be presented to Mr. Schamus at the 2008 Woodstock Film Festival (WFF) awards ceremony on Saturday, October 4th. During the day leading up to the evening ceremony, there will be an in-person discussion with Mr. Schamus at the Festival as well as a retrospective screening.

Past WFF Honorary Trailblazer Award recipients include Ted Sarandos of Netflix, Jonathan Sehring of IFC Entertainment, and John Sloss of Cinetic Media.

About the Woodstock Film Festival
The 9th annual Woodstock Film Festival takes place October 1-5th, 2008. The “fiercely independent” event will include more than 150 films, panels, concerts, and special events that will be featured at venues in Woodstock and the neighboring towns of Rhinebeck, Hunter, Kingston, Saugerties, and Rosendale. Visit for ticket and more detailed program information.
Over the years, the Woodstock Film Festival has established itself as one of the best independent film events in the country by premiering exceptional films; hosting the most talented emerging and established professionals in the movie industry; presenting A-list concerts, parties, and panels; and creating innovative and stimulating programming year-round.
The Woodstock Film Festival is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to present an annual program and year-round schedule of film, music, and art-related activities that promotes artists, culture, inspired learning, and diversity. The Hudson Valley Film Commission promotes sustainable economic development by attracting and supporting film, video, and media production.
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For more information please call (845) 679-4265 or visit

Contact: Meira Blaustein (845) 679-4265;

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