'Flight' Director Robert Zemeckis Wins Chicago Film Fest Founder's Award

FILM: Robert Zemeckis
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Zemeckis has closed a deal to move his production company, Imagemovers, to Universal in a two-year first-look pact.

The Oscar winner will receive the prize on Thursday at the festival's closing night.

Robert Zemeckis will be honored with the Founder's Award at the 48th Chicago International Film Festival on Thursday.

The director's latest film, Flight, marks his return to live-action filmmaking after 12 years. The drama starring Denzel Washington tells the story of a troubled, charismatic airline pilot whose extraordinary heroism masks deep personal demons.

"Flight has all the ingredients that make for a perfect production: a compelling story, excellent performances from a great ensemble cast and Mr. Zemeckis’ bold direction. It delivers at all levels. Flight is unpredictable, memorable, a winner!” said Michael Kutza, the festival's founder and artistic director, in a statement Monday.

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Flight closes the Chicago festival on Thursday night; the event opened Oct. 11 with Stand Up Guys co-starring Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. The Founder's Award, given last year to The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius, pays tribute to a film's "unique and innovative approach to the art of the moving image," according to the fest.

Zemeckis, a Chicago native, is garnering awards season buzz along with Washington for the movie, which hits theaters Nov. 2.

The film screened Oct. 14 at the New York Film Festival, where Zemeckis praised Washington's acting in an interview with THR, calling it a "magnificent portrayal, a great performance. Very intense, very real. Devoid of any vanity. He did a great job."