Opie on Top

AFF to honor Ron Howard's extraordinary contribution to filmmaking

Opie on Top

If the Austin Film Festival is playing six degrees of separation with this year’s honorees, it’s going to have to try a little harder: director/prodcuer Ron Howard, the just-announced recipient of the Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award, is just one lousy degree removed from Mitchell Hurwitz, who was revealed last week as the 2009 Outstanding Television Writer Award recipient. Howard of course produced Hurwitz’s show Arrested Development, and narrated, too: That alone earns our most warm-hearted congratulations. But wait – there’s more!

A lot more – and no, we’re not referring to Howard the actor’s lasting cultural contributions via his pint-sized scamp Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and his more recent, third-billed turn in Jamie Foxx’s music video “Blame It” (but seriously: what range). Nope, we’re thinking of the astonishingly varied and consistently good work Howard’s done behind the camera: children’s fantasy (Willow) and romantic comedy (Splash), summer blockbuster (the Da Vinci movies) and fall Oscar bait (Frost/Nixon). But the sentimental fave has to be Parenthood: Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen, so funny and believable as exhausted parents; Jason Robards as the gravel-voiced grandpa from hell; high-school-aged Keanu Reeves sexing up Martha Plimpton and Joaquin Phoenix locked in his room with a bag of porn.

AFF runs 16th Annual Austin Film Festival & Conference, October 22-29, 2009. For more info, see austinfilmfestival.com Full press release after the jump.



AUSTIN, TX--- July 14, 2009 --- Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Ron Howard will be presented with the Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award at the 16th Annual Austin Film Festival & Conference, October 22-29, 2009. Ron Howard will be presented with the Award during the Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 24th, at the Austin Club. In addition, Howard will be a featured speaker during the Festival’s four-day Conference, October 22-25, 2009.

Producer, director and actor Ron Howard is one of this generation’s most popular directors. From the critically acclaimed dramas A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13 to the hit comedies Parenthood and Splash, he has created some of Hollywood’s most memorable films. Howard directed and produced Cinderella Man starring Oscar® winner Russell Crowe, with whom he previously collaborated with on A Beautiful Mind, for which Howard earned an Oscar® for Best Director and which also won awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress. The film garnered four Golden Globes as well, including the award for Best Motion Picture Drama. Additionally, Howard won Best Director of the Year from the Directors Guild of America (DGA). Howard and producer Brian Grazer received the first annual Awareness Award from the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign for their work on the film.

Howard’s skill as a director has long been recognized, starting in 1978 with his directorial debut of the comedy Grand Theft Auto. In 1995, he received his first Best Director of the Year award from the DGA for Apollo 13. The true-life drama also garnered nine Academy Award® nominations, winning Oscars® for Best Film Editing and Best Sound. It also received Best Ensemble Cast and Best Supporting Actor Awards from the Screen Actor’s Guild. Many of Howard’s past films have received nods from the Academy, including the popular hits Backdraft, Parenthood and Cocoon, the last of which took home two Oscars®. Howard was honored by the Museum of Moving Images in December 2005, and by the American Cinema Editors in February 2006. On January 24th, Howard, along with his partner Brian Grazer, was honored with the Milestone Award by the Producers Guild of America (PGA).

Howard’s latest film was his adaptation of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel Angels & Demons, starring Oscar® winner Tom Hanks. The film is a follow up to his internationally successful film The Da Vinci Code, also starring Tom Hanks.

Howard also produced and directed the film adaptation of Peter Morgan’s critically acclaimed play Frost / Nixon. The film, which was released in December 2009, was nominated for 5 Academy Awards® including Best Picture, and was also nominated for The Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures by the PGA.

Howard’s portfolio includes some of the most popular films of the past 20 years. In 1991, Howard created the acclaimed drama Backdraft, starring Robert De Niro, Kurt Russell and William Baldwin. He followed it with the historical epic Far and Away, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Howard directed Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise and Delroy Lindo in the 1996 suspense thriller Ransom. Howard worked with Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Kathleen Quinlan on Apollo 13, which was re-released recently in the IMAX format. Howard’s other films include the blockbuster Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, starring Jim Carrey; Parenthood, starring Steve Martin; the fantasy epic Willow; and Night Shift, starring Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton and Shelley Long; and the suspenseful western, The Missing, starring Oscar® winners Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones.

Howard has also served as an executive producer on a number of award-winning films and television shows, such as the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, and Fox’s Emmy Award winner for Best Comedy, “Arrested Development,” for which he narrated. He is also producing the upcoming television series “Parenthood,” based on the comedy he directed.

Howard and long-time producing partner Brian Grazer first collaborated on the hit comedies Night Shift and Splash. The pair co-founded Imagine Entertainment in 1986 to create independently produced feature films. The company has since produced a variety of popular feature films, including such hits as American Gangster, Friday Night Lights, The Nutty Professor, The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Bowfinger, The Paper and Liar, Liar. Howard and Grazer produced the recently released drama Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood and staring Angelina Jolie.

He began his career in film as an actor. He first appeared in The Journey and The Music Man, then as Opie on the long-running television series “The Andy Griffith Show.” Howard later starred in the popular series “Happy Days” and drew favorable reviews for his performances in American Graffiti and The Shootist.

Previous Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award recipients are Danny Boyle, Oliver Stone and Sydney Pollack.

This year’s Austin Film Festival and Conference will host over 140 exciting premiere film screenings and events, and produce over 80 panels and roundtable discussions focusing on the art and commerce of film and television writing and production. The AFF and Conference provides registrants unparalleled access to the best writers and filmmakers in the industry.

“Arrested Development” creator Mitchell Hurwitz will accept the 2009 Outstanding Television Writer Award. Recent confirmed screenwriter and filmmaker panelists include Lawrence Kasdan (writer/director The Accidental Tourist, Body Heat, The Big Chill), Damon Lindelof (co-creator “Lost”), Richard Linklater (writer/director Dazed and Confused, Before Sunset), Doug Ellin (creator “Entourage”), David Hayter (Watchmen, X2, X-Men), Gina Prince-Bythewood (writer/director The Secret Life of Bees), and Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight, New Moon, and Breaking Dawn.) The Conference will also include representatives from Paramount Pictures, ABC Studios, Dreamworks, Josephson Entertainment, Disney Animation Studios, Kurtzman/Orci, 20th Century Fox and many more.

For a complete list of panelists and events, for more information, go to www.austinfilmfestival.com or call 512-478-4795 or 800-310-3378. Conference Badges and Film Passes are on sale now and can be purchased on-line or by phone.

About Austin Film Festival The Austin Film Festival (AFF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the art, craft and business of writers and filmmakers and recognizing their contributions to film, television and new media. The AFF champions the work of aspiring and established writers and filmmakers by providing unique cultural events and services, enhancing public awareness and participation and encouraging dynamic and long-lasting community partnerships. www.austinfilmfestival.com

The Austin Film Festival is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.

Special support is provided to the Austin Film Festival by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences®, Continental Airlines, Clear Channel Radio, KVUE, and Target®.

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