2005 Andrew Sarris Award
|The School of the Arts Film Division is pleased to present the fifth annual Andrew Sarris Award to Jeffrey Sharp and Jay Russell. Named after the world-renowned critic, theorist and Film Division faculty member, the Sarris award was created by film students to honor outstanding service and artistic achievement of distinguished alumni. The award will be presented to producer Jeff Sharp in New York City on Friday, May 6th, and to writer-director Jay Russell in Los Angeles on Wednesday, June 8th. |
Andrew Sarris received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Columbia University and has taught film at the University since 1969. He is the author of the landmark American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929 – 1968, and You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet: The American Talking Film, 1927 – 1949, among many other publications. He was for many years an influential film critic at The Village Voice and is now the film reviewer at The New York Observer.
Jeff started his career in Los Angeles, working for directors Oliver Stone and Joel Schumacher. He was a founding member of the Hamptons International Film Festival, where he served as Director of Development.
Jeff holds a Bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and an MFA from the Graduate Film Division at Columbia University School of the Arts (’01).
He is a founding partner of Hart Sharp Entertainment based in New York City. Over the past six years, Jeff and John Hart have produced the hit Broadway musical Chicago, as well as a series of Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated independent films, including You Can Count on Me, Boys Don’t Cry (written by alumni Kim Peirce and Andy Bienen), Nicholas Nickleby, A Home at the End of the World, P.S.(written by alumna Helen Schulman) and, most recently, Proof, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins and Jake Gyllenhaal.
He is currently filming The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin in New York City. The film stars Robin Williams, Toni Collette, Rory Culkin, Sandra Oh and Bobby Canavalle. It is being directed by alumnus Patrick Stettner and is due for release next year.
Jay Russell was born in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and by age 19 was directing a series of commercials for the Arkansas Parks and Tourism division, where his boss was then-Governor Bill Clinton. He attended Memphis University on a full music scholarship, and discovered his love of film during college.
Jay received an MFA in Film from the Columbia University School of the Arts in 1985. While at Columbia, under the direction of co-chairs Milos Forman and the late Frank Daniel, Jay received grants from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as well as from the Louis B. Mayer Foundation. He attended the Sundance Institute Film Workshop to develop End of the Line, which became his feature film debut starring Wilford Brimley, Mary Steenburgen, and Kevin Bacon.
He went on to develop projects for Imagine Entertainment and TriStar Pictures, and began pursuing a new passion: documentaries. In 1996, Russell was asked to write, produce, and direct the five-hour miniseries "Great Drives" for PBS, a series on famous American highways. While filming, Jay first met the author Willie Morris, who told him he was working on a book about his childhood entitled "My Dog Skip."
In 2000, Russell directed and executive produced the hit family film My Dog Skip, starring Kevin Bacon, Frankie Muniz, Luke Wilson, and Diane Lane. My Dog Skip received numerous awards, including the 2000 Broadcast Film Critics Award as Best Family Film.
Jay's next picture, Tuck Everlasting, starred Academy Award winners Ben Kingsley, Sissy Spacek, and William Hurt. Tuck became the first "family film" to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and was also nominated as Best Family Film for the 2002 Broadcast Film Critics Award.
In 2004 Jay moved to a larger arena with his blockbuster, Ladder 49, a tribute to firefighters starring Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta. Currently Jay is developing several projects: Outrider, a "noir-western" to star Robert Redford; Occupied, about the American occupation of post-WW II Japan; and The Waterhorse, based upon the book by Dick King Smith.