By Don Simpson | February 22, 2012
THE JAMES AGEE CINEMA CIRCLE’S
2011 PROGIE AWARDS FOR
BEST PROGRESSIVE FILMS & ARTISTS
George Clooney has won The Sergei Progie, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the James Agee Cinema Circle’s fifth annual “Progie” Awards for Best Progressive Films and Filmmakers of 2011. A Better Life, a film about Latino immigrants, has won The Trumbo Progie for best progressive picture. Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut about warfare in the former Yugoslavia, In the Land of Blood and Honey, has won The Renoir Progie for best antiwar movie. The Danny Glover-co-produced The Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975 has won The Dziga Progie for best documentary.
The James Agee Cinema Circle (of which yours truly is a proud, card-carrying member) is a new international, independent umbrella group of lefty film critics, reviewers, scholars and historians dedicated to raising public awareness about films dealing with political, social and cultural issues such as: Human rights, workers’ struggles, women’s rights, environmentalism, ethnic rights, free speech, gay rights, civil liberties, immigrant rights, people’s activism and peace. The JACC annually presents The Progies to the year’s Best Progressive studio features, indies, documentaries and artists. The Progies are the “un-Oscar”, the “people’s alternative Academy Awards,” honoring movies and talents of conscience and consciousness.
Below is a complete list of all of the 2011 Progies winners, followed by the nominees in every category. Each Progie is awarded in a category named after a great cinema artist or film that made a contribution to movies that inspire, enlighten and entertain audiences.
THE TRUMBO: The Progie Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE PICTURE is named after Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a member of the Hollywood Ten, who was imprisoned for his beliefs and refusing to inform. Trumbo helped break the Blacklist when he received screen credit for Spartacus and Exodus in 1960.
Winner: A Better Life
THE GARFIELD: The Progie Award for BEST ACTOR in a progressive picture is named after John Garfield, who rose from the proletarian theatre to star in progressive pictures such as Gentleman’s Agreement and Force of Evil, only to run afoul of the Hollywood Blacklist.
Winner: Peter Mullan (Tyrannosaur)
Runners Up: Demián Bichir (A Better Life); George Clooney (The Descendants); Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method)
KAREN MORLEY AWARD: The Progie Award for BEST ACTRESS in a film portraying women in a progressive picture is named for Karen Morley, co-star of 1932’s Scarface and 1934’s Our Daily Bread. Morley was driven out of Hollywood in the 1930s for her leftist views, but maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for New York’s Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.
Winner: Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Runner Up: Jessica Chastain (The Debt)
THE RENOIR: The Progie Award for BEST ANTI-WAR FILM is named after the great French filmmaker Jean Renoir, who directed the 1937 anti-militarism masterpiece Grand Illusion.
Winner: In The Land of Blood and Honey
Runner Up: War Horse
THE GILLO: The Progie Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE FOREIGN FILM is named after the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, who lensed the 1960s classics The Battle of Algiers and Burn!
Winner: Le Havre (France)
Runners Up: The Time That Remains (France); A Separation (Iran)
THE DZIGA: The Progie Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE DOCUMENTARY is named after the Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, who directed 1920s nonfiction films such as the Kino Pravda series and The Man With the Movie Camera.
OUR DAILY BREAD AWARD: The Progie Award for the MOST POSITIVE AND INSPIRING WORKING CLASS SCREEN IMAGE is named after King Vidor’s 1934 classic about an American collective farm, which starred Karen Morley and was produced by Charlie Chaplin.
Winner: Le Havre
Runner Up: Albert Nobbs
THE ROBESON: The Progie Award for the BEST PORTRAYAL OF PEOPLE OF COLOR that shatters cinema stereotypes, in light of their historically demeaning depictions onscreen. It is named after courageous performing legend, Paul Robeson, who starred in 1936’s Song of Freedom and 1940’s The Proud Valley, and narrated 1942’s Native Land.
THE SERGEI: The Progie Award for LIFETIME PROGRESSIVE ACHIEVEMENT ON- OR OFFSCREEN is named after Sergei Eisenstein, the Soviet director of masterpieces such as Potemkin and 10 Days That Shook the World.
Winner: George Clooney
Runners Up: Sean Penn; Raul Ruiz
THE BUNUEL: The Progie Award for the MOST SLYLY SUBVERSIVE SATIRICAL CINEMATIC FILM in terms of form, style and content is named after Luis Bunuel, the Spanish surrealist who directed 1929’s The Andalusian Dog, 1967’s Belle de Jour and 1972’s “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.
Winner: The Artist
THE PASOLINI: The Progie Award for BEST PRO-GAY RIGHTS film is named after Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who directed 1964’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew and The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales in the 1970s.
Runner Up: Weekend
THE LAWSON: The Progie Award for BEST ANTI-FASCIST FILM is named after John Howard Lawson, screenwriter of 1938’s anti-Franco Blockade and the 1940s anti-nazi films Four Sons, Action in the North Atlantic, Sahara and Counter-Attack, and one of the Hollywood Ten.
Winner: Sarah’s Key
Runner Up: The Debt
THE LANGLOIS: For BEST PROGRESSIVE PICTURE DESERVING THEATRICAL RELEASE IN THE US and distribution in other countries and platforms is named after film archivist Henri Langlois, co-founder of Paris’ Cinémathèque.
Asmaa; Boleto a Paraiso; Carre Blanc; Cinema Komunisto; Escribeme Postales A Copacabana; Granito: How To Nail a Dictator; Green; Ispansi; Jesus Was a Communist; Land of Opportunity; The Loving Story; Omar Killed Me; She Monkeys; Le Skylab; The Sleeping Voice; Vapor Trail; Vito; Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up; Without; You Hurt My Feelings