Chicago International Film Festival to honor Sidney Poitier in a special tribute

Academy Award winning actor Sidney Poitier will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award October 18, during the 44th Chicago International Film Festival’s Black Perspective Tribute. Poitier’s extraordinary career will be celebrated with a selectio

Academy Award winning actor Sidney Poitier will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award October 18, during the 44th Chicago International Film Festival’s Black Perspective Tribute.

Poitier’s extraordinary career will be celebrated with a selection of film highlights and an intimate one-on-one conversation with special guest interviewer Linda Johnson Rice, president and CEO of Johnson Publishing Inc.

Poitier’s career spans more than a half-century, and the actor, director, producer and bestselling author has earned numerous honors and awards, including being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1968.

Poitier was the first Black person to win an Oscar for actor in a lead role, taking home the coveted industry statuette in 1693 for his performance in Lilies of the Field.

Though his parents were from Cat Island, Bahamas, Poitier was born in Miami in 1927. His farmer parents were enroute from Cat Island to Miami to sell vegetables when Poitier ended up being born prematurely. Records indicate that he and his family relocated to Nassau when Sidney was 10 years old. The now famous actor has given an account of his early life in three biographies entitled This Life (1980), The Measure of A Man (2000) and Life Beyond Measure (2008).

At 17, Poitier moved to New York where he held menial jobs in exchange for acting lessons at the American Negro Theater, and where legendary actor Harry Belafonte and director Abraham Hill were.

Hill produced a play there that starred Belafonte, with Poitier as the understudy. Poitier later made his stage debut in the Greek comedy, "Lysistrata," which was adapted for Black actors that opened on Broadway. Poitier received excellent critical reviews.

By 1958, Poitier was well known in the industry and received his first Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his role as Noah Cullen in "The Defiant Ones."

Other notable critical acclaim Poitier received in films include the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards presented in London for "The Defiant One," the BAFTA nominations include "A Raisin In the Sun," "Good-bye," "My Lady," "Lilies of the Field," "A Patch of Blue" and "In the Heat of the Night."

Additionally, Poitier directed the Richard Pryor comedy "Stir Crazy," which also starred Gene Wilder. For many years, the movie held the distinction of being the highest grossing film directed by a Black person.

Poitier also directed "Uptown Saturday Night," "Let’s Do It Again," "A Piece of the Action" and "Ghost Dad."

Poitier has been married to Joanna Shimkus, a Canadian-born former actress of Lithuanian descent, since 1976.

The couple have two children, and he has four from a previous marriage.

The Chicago International Film Festival award presentation will be held at the Chase Auditorium, 10 S. Dearborn.

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