As Co-President and Co-Founder of Sony Pictures Classics, which is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, Michael Barker (with Tom Bernard), has distributed (and quite often produced), some of the finest independent movies over the past 30 years. Previously he was an executive at United Artists (1980-1983) and went on to co-found Orion Classics (1983-1991) and Sony Pictures Classics.
Over the span of his career, Barker’s films have received 159 Academy Award® nominations including several for Best Picture: WHIPLASH; AMOUR; Woody Allen’s most successful film of all time, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS; AN EDUCATION; CAPOTE for which Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Academy Award® for Best Actor; CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, recognized as the highest grossing foreign film of all time in North America; and HOWARDS END. His company’s Academy Award® nominations resulted in 36 wins (most recently Julianne Moore for Best Actress for STILL ALICE, and J.K. Simmons for Best Supporting Actor for WHIPLASH), including five for Best Documentary Feature, most recently for SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN, INSIDE JOB and FOG OF WAR, and 12 for Best Foreign Language Film which include BABETTE’S FEAST, ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, THE LIVES OF OTHERS, A SEPARATION and AMOUR. Other notable award wins include 41 Independent Spirit Awards and 23 Golden Globe® Awards.
Barker has collaborated with some of the world’s finest filmmakers including Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Mike Leigh, Louis Malle, and Zhang Yimou, all of whom he’s worked with on multiple occasions, as well as Robert Altman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Suzanne Bier, Ingmar Bergman, Francis Coppola, David Cronenberg, Guillermo del Toro, the Dardenne brothers, Jonathan Demme, R W Fassbinder, Michael Haneke, Nicole Holofcener, Akira Kurosawa, Norman Jewison, Ang Lee, Richard Linklater, David Mamet, Errol Morris, Roman Polanski, Sally Potter, Francois Truffaut, and Wim Wenders.
Over the years, Barker has released features from American masters (ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, SWEET AND LOWDOWN) and new American filmmakers (TAKE SHELTER, POLLOCK, SLACKER, WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, FROZEN RIVER); cutting edge films (KUNG FU HUSTLE, MOON, ORLANDO, RUN LOLA RUN, THE RAID); animated features (THE TRIPLETS OF BELLVILLE, PERSEPOLIS, WALTZ WITH BASHIR); feature documentaries (DOGTOWN AND THE Z BOYS, CRUMB, WINGED MIGRATION, IT MIGHT GET LOUD, THE GATEKEEPERS, TIM’S VERMEER, THE ARMSTRONG LIE) and foreign films (RAN, A PROPHET, WHITE RIBBON, TALK TO HER, CENTRAL STATION, WINGS OF DESIRE).
He and his colleagues have also restored and theatrically reissued some of the great films of the past including THE PASSENGER, THE GARDEN OF THE FINZI CONTINIS, MURMUR OF THE HEART, and the classic films by Indian master Satyajit Ray.
In recognition of his work, Barker has received the following honors and awards: the Honors Award from the Directors Guild of America, the FINDIE Spirit Award in Los Angeles, the GLAAD Media Award, the Gotham Industry Lifetime Achievement Award from the Independent Feature Project in New York and the Spirit of Independence Award from Film Independent at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Under his and Bernard’s leadership, Sony Pictures Classics received the Special Recognition Award from the Sony Corporation CEO two years in a row (1999 and 2000). Most recently, he and Mr. Bernard were awarded the esteemed French Legion of Honor from the French government in acknowledgment for their contributions to French culture over the past 30 years.
He currently serves as Co-Chairman on the Museum of the Moving Image Board of Directors, the Entertainment Media and Technology Dean’s Advisory Board at the NYU Stern School of Business, and has served as Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University School of the Arts Graduate Film Program and on the Visiting Committee to the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas. He is president of Friends of Camp Shakespeare (part of the University of Texas’ Shakespeare at Windale Program).
Sony Pictures Classics’ current and upcoming films include EQUITY (Meera Menon), THE EAGLE HUNTRESS (Otto Bell), ELLE (Paul Verhoeen), JULIETA (Pedro Almodovar), TONI ERDMANN (Maren Ade), THE RED TURTLE (Michael Dudok de Wit), LAND OF MINE (Martin Zandvliet) and NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER (Joseph Cedar).