Natalie Portman, Jennifer Connelly and Darren Aronofsky at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival

by Editor

The Woodstock Film Festival has announced that Academy-​​Award winning actresses Jennifer Connelly and Natalie Portman will co-​​present the Honorary Maverick Award to director Darren Aronofsky at the 15th annual Maverick Awards Ceremony. Both of these esteemed actresses have played leading roles in some of Aronofsky’s most acclaimed films, including REQUIEM FORDREAM and NOAH (Connelly), and BLACK SWAN (Portman). The annual Maverick Awards Ceremony is held at Backstage Studio Productions in Kingston, NY, and features presentations to winning filmmakers and honorary recipients, in addition to a cocktail hour, buffet and live music by Paul Green and the Internet Trolls. The public is invited to attend. Tickets for the Maverick Awards Ceremony can be purchased online or by visiting the box office at 13 Rock City Road in Woodstock.

It is a true honor to host Natalie Portman and Jennifer Connelly at this year’s Maverick Awards Ceremony,” said Woodstock Film Festival Co-​​Founder and Executive Director Meira Blaustein. “Receiving the Maverick Award from actresses who have worked with him and admire his directorial innovations will make this accolade that much more meaningful for Darren.”


Darren Aronofsky — photo by Niko Tavernise

Born and raised in Brookyln, New York, Aronofsky’s impressive filmography includes NOAH, BLACK SWAN, THE WRESTLER, and THE FOUNTAIN. His most recent film NOAH was released to critical acclaim in March 2014 and grossed more than $343M worldwide. Starring Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone and Douglas Booth, it is an adaptation of the story of Noah’s ark, which Richard Roeper called “one of the most dazzling and unforgettable Biblical epics ever put on Film.”

Prior to NOAH, Aronofsky directed BLACK SWAN, which won Natalie Portman the Academy Award for Best Actress and received four other nominations, including one for Best Picture. The film received scores of other accolades, appeared on over 200 critical Top Ten lists, and swept the 2011 Independent Spirit Award with wins for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Cinematography. The film was also a box office phenomenon grossing $328M worldwide.

In 2008, Aronofsky directed THE WRESTLER, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, winning the esteemed Golden Lion making it only the third American film in history to win this grand prize. The film was soon after acquired by Fox Searchlight, went on to win Best Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards and garnered Academy Award nominations for both Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei. Golden Globes were given to Mickey for his iconic performance and to Bruce Springsteen for his original track “The Wrestler.”


Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman starred in Aronofsky’s 2010 thriller, BLACK SWAN. The role garnered her an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2011 for her dynamic performance. Portman first charmed audiences at the age of eleven in Luc Besson’s 1994 film, THE PROFESSIONAL. Perhaps best known for her work in George Lucas’ STAR WARS prequel trilogy, Portman has since built an extensive resume, appearing in audience favorites like GARDEN STATE, ANYWHERE BUT HERE, V FOR VENDETTA, and the recent blockbuster THOR. She was also nominated for a supporting role in 2004’sCLOSER at the 2005 Oscars. She has also been honored at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, BAFTA Awards and many more for her memorable performances. Portman will be seen next starring in JANE GOTGUN opposite Joel Edgerton and Ewan McGregor, and Terrence Malick’s upcoming untitled project as well as Malick’s KNIGHT OF CUPS. Making her feature-​​length directorial debut, Portman will also release A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS, which she wrote, produced, directed, and stars in.


Jennifer Connelly

In addition to being directed by Aronofsky in REQUIEM FORDREAM and NOAH, Jennifer Connelly won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2002 for her role in A BEAUTIFUL MIND. Recently, her film SHELTER, written and directed by her husband Paul Bettany, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Earlier in the year, her film ALOFT, directed by Claudia Llosa, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. ALOFT will be released by Sony Classics in 2015. Earlier next year, Connelly will begin filming Philip Roth’s AMERICAN PASTORAL, to be directed by Philip Noyce. She will star opposite Ewan McGregor and Dakota Fanning.

The Honorary Maverick Award is presented each year to an individual whose life and work is driven by creativity, independent vision and social activism. Also being honored at this year’s Maverick Awards is Mark Duplass (CREEP, THE PUFFY CHAIR, JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME) who will be receiving the first annual Fiercely Independent Award, presented by Radius –TWC co-​​president Tom Quinn. The Awards Ceremony also includes presentation of awards for Best Feature Narrative, Best Feature Documentary, Best Short Narrative, Best Short Documentary, Best Student Short, the Animation Award, the James Lyons Editing Award, the Diane Seligman Awards, the Haskell Wexler Award for Best Cinematography, the Tangerine Entertainment Juice Award for Best Female Director and newly added Ultra Indie Award.

The winners from the films in competition will be chosen by this year’s roster of jurors, including: Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, actors Terry Kinney and Lori Singer, film critics and journalists Thelma Adams and Logan Hill, Academy Award winning documentary filmmakers Leon Gast, Barbara Kopple and Joe Berlinger, renowned cinematographer Haskell Wexler, and more.

Other participants at this year’s Woodstock Film Festival include Emmy winners Courteney Cox and Tony Kushner, Pauly Shore, Ron Nyswaner, Bruce Greenwood, Grammy Award winners Steve Earle and jazz legend Hugh Masekela, David Broza and many more.

For more information on this year’s festival line-​​up of films, panels, concerts and special events and to purchase tickets go here:



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