The Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) has announced that Academy Award® winner and renowned global icon Sir Sidney Poitier has agreed to the
naming of the prestigious Career Achievement Award at the Bahamas International Film Festival the “Sir Sidney Poitier Tribute Award.” BIFF founder and
executive director Leslie Vanderpool made the announcement.
“There is no person on Earth who is better suited to have the Career Achievement Award be named after him,” Vanderpool said. “Poitier is one of the finest
actors for generations and is, simply put, an icon and a legend.” The American Film Institute named him among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time.
Poitier stretched his reach within the industry on film and on stage acting in productions such as “A Raisin in the Sun” (1959) and “Lysistrata.” For his film role in “The Defiant Ones,” Poitier was the first male actor of African descent to be nominated for a
competitive Academy Award in 1958. A few years later in 1964, Poitier was the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a riveting and
memorable performance as Homer Smith in Ralph Nelson’s “Lilies of The Field.”
Thirty-eight years after receiving the Best Actor award, Poitier received an honorary tribute from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in
recognition of his remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being. In 2009, Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United
States of America’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.
A global legend, knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1968 and highly respected author, director and “actor’s actor,” with more than fifty films and
television shows to his credit, Poitier has starred in some of Hollywood’s most important and biggest films and earned critics’ praise for several
commanding performances. Poitier’s reputation solidified with leading roles in mainstream films: “No Way Out” (1950), “Blackboard Jungle”
(1955), “The Bedford Incident” and “A Patch Of Blue” (1965). The most successful films that catapulted Poitier’s career in 1967 where, “To Sir with Love,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “In the Heat of the Night.”
Directing was not far away from his achievements having a directorial debut with the western “Buck and the Preacher” soon followed by “Uptown Saturday Night,” “Let’s Do It Again,” “A Piece Of The Action,” “Stir Crazy,” “Hanky Panky,” “Fast Forward’ and ‘Ghost Dad.”
From 1995 to 2003, Poitier served as a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company. Proud to represent The Bahamas, Sir Sidney was the
Bahamian Ambassador to Japan, a position held from 2002 to 2007, while being the Ambassador of The Bahamas to UNESCO.
What makes this addition so momentous is that he is a Bahamian who believes in building future generations of filmmakers while honoring the actors and
actresses who broke ground, furthermore, upholding their careers with poise. Sir Sidney possesses a true love and appreciation for the people of The
One of the Bahamas International Film Festival’s missions is to ensure youth in The Bahamas have the opportunity to remember Sir Sidney while celebrating
the achievements of others within the film industry.
“Leslie Vanderpool’s efforts have been extraordinary in making it possible for The Bahamas to have not only a film festival, but to also attract some of
the great film artists and filmmakers from around the world. People like Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Glover, Alan Arkin, Sir Sean
Connery, Sophie Okonedo, Lee Daniels, Lenny Kravitz and my own daughter Sydney Tamiia Poitier, who have found, to their great surprise, that the Bahamas is
moving swiftly toward a bona fide motion picture community–all of which have been structured by the imaginative young Bahamians who have committed
themselves to The Bahamas having a film community of its own,” Poitier said.
Adding to his many achievements, Poitier has published four best sellers “This Life,” “The Measure of A Man,” “Life Beyond Measure: Letters to my Great-Grand Daughter” and “Montaro Caine.” Additionally, he has many talents having recorded
an album with the composer Fred Katz called ‘Poitier Meets Plato’ reciting passages from Plato’s writings.
Family is most important for Sir Sidney, He and his wife Joanna Shimkus, a Canadian-born former actress of Lithuanian and Irish descent have two daughters
Anika and Sydney Tamiia Poitier. Poitier has four daughters Beverly, Pamela, Sherri and Gina from a previous marriage. In addition to his six daughters,
Poitier has eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Leslie Vanderpool and Sydney T. Poitier will be instrumental in overseeing the granting of the Sir Sidney Poitier Tribute Awards.