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Richard Gere to receive George Eastman Award

Celebrated actor recognized for his contribution to film and humanitarian efforts

Rochester, N.Y., Decemeber 23, 2011—George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film announces it will honor Richard Gere with the prestigious George Eastman Award on Feb. 16. The award recognizes Gere’s distinguished contribution to the art of film as well as his global humanitarian leadership. In accepting the honor, Gere joins the company of such film legends as Charles Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Kim Novak, Martin Scorsese, and Meryl Streep. The George Eastman Award was established in 1955 as the first retrospective film award to honor artistic work of enduring value.

Gere is an internationally renowned actor who has starred in more than 40 films. With early performances in Looking for Mr. Goodbar in 1977 and his breakout 1980 film American Gigolo Gere quickly ascended the ranks of leading men. Gere earned an Emmy® nomination for the HBO film And the Band Played On and Golden Globe® nominations for Officer and a Gentleman and Pretty Woman. For his celebrated role in the movie musical Chicago, he earned both Golden Globe® and Screen Actors Guild awards.

Time magazine has called Gere’s acting “hypnotic” and The Los Angeles Times said he is “skillful and charismatic.” For his acclaimed role in Chicago, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said, “Gere gives 'em the old razzle-dazzle with his roguish charm and sharp comic timing.” Critic Roger Ebert has declared Gere “Hollywood’s most successful male sex symbol.”

“Richard Gere’s continued commitment to the art of screen acting has made him one of America’s most popular actors with the skill and star power equal to the greatest headliners of Hollywood’s golden age,” said Dr. Anthony Bannon, Ron and Donna Fielding Director at Eastman House. “The breadth and strength of his roles mirror his deep, personal commitments in the causes he champions.”

For more than 25 years, Gere has worked to draw attention to humanitarian crises rooted in injustice, inequality, and intolerance. In 1991, he founded the Gere Foundation, a private grant-giving organization focused on advocacy and cultural preservation in the Tibetan community, education, public health, and emergency relief. For his humanitarian work, he has received honors from many organizations, including amfAR, Amnesty International, CARE, and Hadassah International.

Gere is also a long-time photographer and collector of photography. His photographs have traveled to 11 countries with the exhibition Pilgrim, which features black-and-white photographs taken by Gere, sharing his personal vision of Tibet and its people and the surrounding region. The exhibition, which raises money for charities supporting human rights, also includes images by fellow photographers interested in the cause. Gere has published a book of photographs titled Pilgrim (Bulfinch Press, 143 pp., 1997), with an introduction by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which raises money for the Gere Foundation.

Gere will receive the George Eastman Award in a ceremony in the Dryden Theatre, featuring a video compilation of his work. The event is open to the public. Tickets go on sale Jan. 17; details regarding pricing to be announced. For more information about the 2012 George Eastman Award, please visit eastmanhouse.org or call (585) 271-3361 ext. 218.

About George Eastman Award'

Since opening its doors in 1949, George Eastman House has championed the history, conservation, creativity, and passion surrounding the media supported in the Museum’s mission. With the establishment in 1955 of the Eastman House’s first honor to professionals in the motion picture industry, the George Eastman Award for distinguished contribution to the art of film, the Museum began its history of recognizing that same commitment in individuals. The first two presentations of the award in 1955 and 1957, known as the Festival of Film Artists, recognized the legends of the silent film era (1915–1930). Since then the George Eastman Award has evolved to recognize a range of artistic talent in the film industry that includes actors, directors, and cinematographers.

About Richard Gere

Richard Gere has vigorously advocated for human rights of the Tibetan people and the preservation of Tibetan culture for three decades. He was the Co-Founder and Chairman of Tibet House U.S. in 1987 and joined the Board of Directors at the International Campaign for Tibet in 1992 in order to more effectively address national and international forums of influence. He has served as its Board Chairman since 1995 where Gere has addressed the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the U.S. House of Representatives, European Parliament, and the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Gere has also co-sponsored five historic visits to the United States by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Gere has also been at the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS, where he began a personal campaign against the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease in the early 1980s. In 2002, he launched the Heroes Project in partnership with the Avahan AIDS Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has collaborated with the Naz Foundation and the Kaiser Family Foundation to galvanize societal leaders and address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India. Gere has received honors from amfAR, Amnesty International, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Hadassah International, the OneXOne Foundation, the Tibet Fund and the Harvard AIDS Institute. He is the recipient of CARE’s Humanitarian Award for Global Change, the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award and the Marian Anderson Award.

About George Eastman House

George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film is located on the estate of Kodak founder George Eastman, the father of popular photography and motion picture film. Founded in 1947, the archive houses 28,000 film titles and 4 million film-related publicity stills, posters, scores, scripts, and pre-cinema artifacts. Eastman House also holds the world’s largest collection of camera technology. The Eastman House’s L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation is regarded as the premier venue of professional training in film preservation, restoration, and archiving. The Eastman House is also the archive in which many filmmakers have chosen to preserve their films, including Cecil B. DeMille, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Ken Burns, and Kathryn Bigelow.