George C. Wolfe’s ‘Rustin’ to Receive Icon & Creator Tribute at Gotham Awards

“Rustin,” the upcoming Netflix film directed by George C. Wolfe about civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, will receive the Icon & Creator Tribute for Social Justice at the 33rd annual Gotham Awards on Nov. 27, the Gotham Film & Media Institute announced Thursday.

“Rustin,” which was produced by former President Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground, tells the story of how Rustin organized the 1963 March on Washington and his many other contributions to the civil rights movement. He was a close advisor to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and in his later years, lent his voice to LGBTQ causes. He was the first person to raise the awareness of the NAACP about the AIDS crisis. He died in 1987 and was awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

The Gotham Film & Media statement described him as “one of the greatest activists and organizers the world has ever known. Rustin challenged authority, never apologized for who he was, what he believed or who he desired. And he did not back down. He made history, and in turn, he was forgotten by many.”

In Wolfe’s film, he is played by Colman Domingo, who is joined by Chris Rock as Roy Wilkins, Aml Ameen as Martin Luther King Jr., Jeffrey Wright as Adam Clayton Powell Jr., CCH Pounder as Anna Arnold Hedgeman and Audra Macdonald as Ella Baker.

Debuting this year, the Icon & Creator Tribute recognizes cultural icons and the filmmakers who bring their stories to life.

“For the 33rd annual Gotham Awards ceremony, we’re thrilled to recognize both the inspiring hero of the civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin, and the remarkable film ‘Rustin’ from George C. Wolfe, Netflix and Higher Ground,” Jeffrey Sharp, executive director of the Gotham Film & Media Institute, said in a statement. “This beautifully crafted and moving film shines a light on the visionary contributions of a proud gay Black man on the heels of the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.”

Renowned filmmaker, theater director and playwright Wolfe is a five-time Tony winner who has directed 17 Broadway productions, including “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches” in 1993. His 2020 Netflix film, August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, was nominated for five Academy Awards and won two. In 2005, he won a DGA Award, four NAACP Image Awards and a National Board of Review Award for “Lackawanna Blues,” which also earned him an Emmy nomination.

The 33rd Gotham Awards will take place in person at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. Nominees will be announced on Oct. 24. The 2023 Gotham Awards submissions are open now.

Netflix premiered “Rustin” at the Toronto film festival and will begin streaming it in November.

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