As Co-President and Co-Founder of Sony Pictures Classics, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2016, 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 173 Academy Award® nominations including several for Best Picture: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME; WHIPLASH; AMOUR; 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, for which Emma Thompson won the Academy Award® for Best Actress. His companies' 39 Academy Award® wins include Best Actresses Cate Blanchett (BLUE JASMINE) and Julianne Moore (STILL ALICE), Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons (WHIPLASH), Best Supporting Actress Marcia Gay Harden (POLLOCK) and Best Original Screenplays by Woody Allen (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS) and Pedro Almodóvar (TALK TO HER); as well as 5 for Best Documentary Feature, including SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN, INSIDE JOB and FOG OF WAR, and 14 for Best Foreign Language Film including BABETTE’S FEAST, ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, THE LIVES OF OTHERS, A SEPARATION, AMOUR, SON OF SAUL, and A FANTASTIC WOMAN
Barker has collaborated with some of the world’s finest filmmakers including Pedro Almodóvar, Mike Leigh, Louis Malle, Zhang Yimou, Susanne Bier, the Dardenne brothers, Jonathan Demme, R W Fassbinder, Michael Haneke, Nicole Holofcener, Akira Kurosawa, Richard Linklater, David Mamet, Errol Morris, Sally Potter, Francois Truffaut, Wim Wenders and Agniezka Holland, all of whom he’s worked with on multiple occasions, as well as Robert Altman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, Francis Coppola, David Cronenberg, Guillermo del Toro, Norman Jewison, Ang Lee, Roman Polanski, Damien Chazelle, Haifaa Al-Mansour and Maren Ade.
Over the years, Barker has released features from American masters (ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, SWEET AND LOWDOWN) and new American filmmakers (WHIPLASH, THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, 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 RED TURTLE, THE TRIPLETS OF BELLVILLE, PERSEPOLIS, WALTZ WITH BASHIR); feature documentaries (RED ARMY, SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN, DOGTOWN AND THE Z BOYS, CRUMB, WINGED MIGRATION, IT MIGHT GET LOUD, THE GATEKEEPERS, TIM’S VERMEER, THE ARMSTRONG LIE) and foreign films (ELLE, TONI ERDMANN, 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.
Honors bestowed on Barker and Bernard include 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). 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. Most recently he and Mr. Bernard were awarded The Women in Film Beacon Award from Women in Film Los Angeles in recognition of their unmatched support of female filmmakers throughout their careers.
Barker 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 and in 2016 he was inducted in the Texas Film Hall of Fame. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas.