As Co-President and Co-Founder of Sony Pictures Classics, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012, 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 140 Academy Award® nominations including several for Best Picture 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 companies' Academy Award® nominations resulted in 31 wins 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 35 Independent Spirit Awards and 19 Golden Globe® Awards.
Barker has collaborated with some of the world's finest filmmakers including Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, 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, François Truffaut, and Wim Wenders.
Over the years, Barker has released features from American masters (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: REDEMPTION); animated features (THE TRIPLETS OF BELLVILLE, PERSEPOLIS, WALTZ WITH BASHIR); feature documentaries (DOGTOWN AND THE Z BOYS, CRUMB, WINGED MIGRATION, IT MIGHT GET LOUD) 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.
Barker has been recognized for his work, and has received the Honors Award from the Directors Guild of America, the insignia of Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government, the FINDIE Spirit Award in Los Angeles, the GLAAD Media Award, a retrospective at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, and the Gotham Industry Lifetime Achievement Award from the Independent Feature Project in New York. Additionally, under his leadership, Sony Pictures Classics received the Special Recognition Award from the Sony Corporation CEO two years in a row (1999 and 2000).
He currently serves 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, the Visiting Committee to the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago, and has served as Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University School of the Arts Graduate Film Program. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas.
Recent releases include BEFORE MIDNIGHT (Richard Linklater), BLUE JASMINE (Woody Allen), KILL YOUR DARLINGS (John Krokidas) , THE ARMSTRONG LIE (Alex Gibney), THE PAST (Asghar Farhadi), THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (Ralph Fiennes), WADJDA (Haifaa Al-Mansour), THE PATIENCE STONE (Atiq Rahimi), AUSTENLAND (Jerusha Hess) and TIM'S VERMEER (Teller).
Upcoming releases include THE LUNCHBOX (Ritesh Batra), JODOROWSKY'S DUNE (Frank Pavich), ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (Jim Jarmusch), FOR NO GOOD REASON (Charlie Paul), THE NOTEBOOK (Janos Szasz) and MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (Woody Allen). Most recently, Sony Pictures Classics acquired WHIPLASH (Damien Chazelle), (LAND HO! (Martha Stephens & Aaron Katz), LOVE IS STRANGE (Ira Sachs) and INFINITELY POLAR BEAR (Maya Forbes) from the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. They also acquired ALOFT (Claudia Llosa), a competition title, at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival.