The Gotham Film & Media Institute paid tribute to the late Sidney Poitier at the awards ceremony taking place at NYC’s Cipriani Wall Street this evening.
Deadline previously reported that The Gotham Awards Advisory Committee planned the tribute to the actor’s trailblazing impact on Hollywood as the first Black man to win a Best Actor Oscar for 1964’s Lilies of the Field. He also had an illustrious directing and stage career with films like A Warm December and Uptown Saturday Night and starred in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway in 1959, in addition to starring in the film adaptation in 1961.
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The acting icon passed away earlier this year in his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was 94. The Gotham Awards tasked Devotion actor Jonathan Majors to kick off the sweeping 2022 Gotham Icon tribute and he presented the award to the Poitier family who was in attendance.
“His activism changes movies and the way we see ourselves,” said Majors.
Before Poitier’s three daughters step on stage to accept the award, Majors recites the posthumous tribute he wrote to the actor after his death.
“You activated the rebel in me and took my artistry to another level. It was my initiation into the artistic vanguard. From which you sir would be the chairman of the board.”
Then, the producer of the Apple TV documentary on Poitier’s life gave a sincere speech about how the actor was his hero.
“Staring at that screening, watching To Sir With Love, that made an everlasting impact on me,” he said. He mentions that when Portier was born, his mother visited a local soothsayer who told her: “Your son will travel the world with kings. He will be famous and take your name to every corner of the globe. That’s his beginnings and the rest is an epic, inspiring journey.”
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His three daughters Anika, Pamela, and Sherri Poitier were in attendance to accept the Icon award. “Our father had a deep and passionate love for independent cinema. His trailblazing impact opened so many doors and will continue to open doors.”
Their speech was short, sweet, and follow up by an announcement by Jonathan Majors that no one hear.
“Hold on! Don’t leave the stage yet,” he says. “We’re launching The Gotham Sidney Poitier initiative. SPI aims to expand on his legacy to a new generation of filmmakers. The program encompasses mentorships, project funding and career advancement.”
There is no other way to honor Poitier’s work than a program that will help others achieve the same goals as an initiative in his honor.
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