SPC's Bernard, Barker honored

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PARK CITY -- During a busy weekend for Sundance Film Festival pickups, Sony Pictures Classics co-presidents Tom Bernard and Michael Barker took a break from acquiring titles like the documentary "My Kid Could Paint That" to accept The Hollywood Reporter's inaugural Indie Mogul Award.

During a festive party Sunday night at the Snow Park Lodge in Deer Valley, The Reporter's vp and group ad director Marc Sternberg made the presentation to the veteran executives "on behalf of the entire staff of The Hollywood Reporter."

"For over 25 years Michael and Tom have been the most consistent of all the independent distribution companies," Sternberg said. "But what many of you many not know is that had it not been for a chance meeting back in the 1970s at a Secret Santa -- when Tom drew Michael's name and Michael drew Tom's name and they exchanged gifts -- all of us may not be standing here tonight."

Sternberg added that Barker and Bernard have founded three successful indie distributors: UA Classics, Orion Classics and Sony Pictures Classics, which is celebrating its first 15 years. Over the years, the duo have released more than 250 films.

The list includes Todd Solondz's "Welcome to the Doll House," Walter Salles' "Central Station," Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Nicole Holofcener's "Friends With Money," Pedro Almodovar's "Talk to Her" and the Spanish director's current release, "Volver." The films they have been involved with have earned 52 Oscar nominations and won 22 Academy Awards.

"Perhaps what distinguishes Michael and Tom most is their unrivaled passion for independent films," Sternberg said.

To which Bernard responded: "This has always been the business we've wanted to be in. We never wanted to run a studio. Our contract says we want to live in New York. We're not indie moguls, we're indie guys."

After thanking SPC colleagues Marcie Bloom and Dylan Leiner for their contributions, Barker said, "I'm really proud that we are just about the movies."

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