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John Sayles

LIMBO is John Sayles' 12th feature film. His previous effort was the critically lauded Spanish-language drama Men with Guns, which was nominated for a Golden Globe this year for Best Foreign Language Film. Prior to that, he created Lone Star, for which he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Sayles' first film was the counterculture classic Return of the Secaucus Seven, winner of the 1978 Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay. He followed this with Lianna, the story of a woman coming to terms with her lesbianism.

Sayles broadened his audience with the youthful romantic comedy-drama Baby It's You and the satirical Brother from Another Planet, about a black extra-terrestrial whose ship crash lands in New York City.

His next two projects were stories about which he had long been passionate, Matewan and Eight Men Out. Sayles had written both of these years before he was able to film them but the projects were considered commercially risky and he had difficulty raising the funds to make them. In 1986, Matewan, the story of a 1920 miners' strike in West Virginia, went before the cameras. The following year, the movie was part of the Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. Sayles also wrote a book about the experience, entitled "Thinking in Pictures: The Making of the Movie 'Matewan.'

Eight Men Out," based on the book by Eliot Asinof which detailed the 1919 baseball World Series scandal, was among Sayles' most popular efforts. It is also one of only two scripts (the other being Rosalie Fry's The Secret of Roan Inish) he has directed based on material from another source.

Sayles' urban epic City of Hope was shot in five weeks in 40 locations and included 48 speaking roles. Covering the mix of generations and ethnicities living in a great metropolis, the film won the Grand Prix at the Tokyo Film Festival and appeared on numerous U.S. critics' Ten Best lists.

Sayles scaled down his dramatic canvas for his next picture, the intimate Passion Fish, about the healing relationship between a nurse and her patient set in Louisiana. Starring Mary McDonnell and Alfre Woodard, the film earned McDonnell an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and Sayles an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The Secret of Roan Inish, Sayles' next film, wove a lush tale about the 'selkie,' a beautiful woman who turns into a seal.

Among Sayles' published prose is an O.Henry Award-winning short story and a novel, Union Dues, which was nominated for a National Book Award. His numerous scripts for other directors include the features The Challenge for John Frankenheimer and Breaking In for director Bill Forsyth. He created the acclaimed television series Shannon's Deal. He has published two additional novels, Pride of the Bimbos (1975) and Los Gusanos (1991), as well as the short story collection The Anarchists' Convention (1979). He is currently working on another book of short stories. He is also the subject of Sayles on Sayles, published by Faber & Faber.

In 1985, Sayles received the John D. MacArthur Award, given to 20 Americans in diverse fields each year for their innovative work. He has also been the recipient of the Eugene V. Debs Award, The John Steinbeck Award and the John Cassavetes Award.

Sayles is executive producing Girl Fight, written and directed by Karen Kusama, which began shooting in April.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

John Sayles Facts

BirthdaySeptember 28, 1950 (73)
BirthplaceSchenectady, New York, USA
Height6' 4" (1m93)  How tall is John Sayles compared to you?

Selected Filmography

The Secret Of Roan Inish
Lone Star
Eight Men Out
Silver City
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