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In 1970, the New Libertarian Society Of Cinema Arts established its annual awards, officially named the New Libertarian Society Of Cinema Arts Prize Of Excellence. The award is commonly refered to as the Society Prize and is also nicknamed the “Libby.” After the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTA, the Society Prize has become one of the world’s most prestigious awards for the art of filmmaking. The award was first handed out in the spring of 1971 and has been awarded annually ever since.

The 40th Annual Society Prizes were awarded in a ceremony held at the Harbour Performing Arts Centre in Lambton Quay. The ceremony was hosted by Zooey Deschanel and Laurence Tureaud. The hour-long ceremony honored the best of international and domestic films. Taking home the international honors, the big winners on the evening were Invictus, which won for Best Picture (International) and Best Director for Clint Eastwood. Acting honors went to Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock. The Society Prize For Best Picture (New Libertaria) went to the Mayan-calendar love story Transit Of Venus, a trans-generational love story focusing on the parallel love stories of a modern couple in Lambton Quay and a Mayan couple during the reign of Pakal the Great, and his influence of the astronomy surrounding the Mayan calendar.


The Society Prize In The 1970s: The Golden Age[]

Godfather Film Poster

Film poster of The Godfather, which claimed three of the four international awards at the 1973 Society Prizes.

Main article: The Society Prize in the 1970s

The first Society Prizes were awarded in 1971 and marked a signal post in recognizing the accomplishments of Libertarian and international filmmakers. The first Society Prizes, quickly given the nickname “The Libby” as nomenclature, had a distinctive international feel as it honored American and Italian films (Garden Of the Finzi-Continis, Patton, M*A*S*H). Over the next decade, the international and acting awards reflected the nature of film in the 1970s as a golden age of filmmaking.

Notable Libby accomplishments throughout the first decade include the impressive three-peat by Jack Nicholson in the early 1970s (The Last Detail, Chinatown, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) and the dominance of Francis Ford Coppola in the directing categories (The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and Apocalypse Now). Unlike the Oscars, The Society Prizes were willing to reward darker fare (The Exorcist, A Clockwork Orange) and often established the award’s reputation to reinforce messages of religious tolerance and empowerment - from Carol Kane’s portrayal of a young Jewish woman in Hester Street to Liv Ullman’s portrayal of the Swedish immigrant experience in America with Utvandrarna.

The Society Prize also established a category to honor domestic films in a separate category from international films. The first Libby for Best Picture (New Libertaria) was Wanton Thorns, a film highly influenced by the Swedish master Ingmar Bergman, telling the story of unrequited love in the hardscrabble life of raspberry farmers in the agricultural districts. Over the decade, Society Prize-winning domestic films would explore themes ranging from national origins in the age of exploration (Tasman: The Discovery, North Island) to sprawling epics (Flight Of the Crane, Spurs In Flanders) - as well as intimate dramas exploring subjects such as the challenges of interfaith marriage (Kol Nidre) and feminist empowerment in the workplace (Infinite Numbers). The awards also honored literary adaptations such as the filmic version of John Irving’s novel Setting Free The Bears, a coming-of-age story set in Vienna and told as parallel to the Slavic Nazi resistance.

The Society Prize By Year: 1970-711971-721972-731973-741974-751975-761976-771977-781978-791979-80


The Society Prize In The 1980s: The Balance Of Art & Commerce[]

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The Coen Brothers' Blood Simple swept the international awards at the 15th Annual Society Prizes.

Main article: The Society Prize in the 1980s

Over the next decade, the state of cinema was changing, as the state of movies in general began to embrace the “big film” and the blockbuster. The Society Prizes struggled with this change as it tried to adapt to the international blockbuster while still seeking out the intimate films that were a hallmark of 1970s cinema. Nothing personifies this more than two-time Libby winner Harrison Ford who snagged both of his acting awards for wildly different films that reflected this emerging blockbuster attitude (Raiders Of The Lost Ark) as well as the thoughtful drama that dealt with sensitive religious themes (Witness).

However, the Society Prize often sought out the smaller films that personified the religious ethics of the nation (Chariots Of Fire, The Mission) while also touching on humanist themes (The World According To Garp). The awards also found opportunity to reward inventiveness often overlooked by other awards (Brazil) and recognize the talents of emerging filmmakers such as Joel and Ethan Coen, as evidenced by their sweep of the Prizes for their masterpiece Blood Simple. Other notable moments in the history of the awards included Debra Winger’s back-to-back victories (An Officer And A Gentleman, Terms Of Endearment) and Francis Ford Coppola taking home his fourth Prize for Tucker: A Man And His Dream.

In domestic films, the Society Prize for Best Picture went to disparate historical dramas ranging from the final days of King Benedict II and the defeat of his loyalist army at Bloodfield (Bloodfield) to biographies of the first prime minister under the Third Constitution (Chumway) to historical dramas of New Libertaria’s first king (Benjamin I) and the nation’s first queen, Deborah I (Her Majesty). Beyond the historical dramas, notable winners dove into searing personal dramas dealing with the bleakly harrowing life of drug-addicted prostitutes (The Sinner Saint), bleakly-apocalyptic futurism (Behold A Pale Horse), a sentimental look back at the legendary Lambton Quay Phantoms who stunned the immortal New York Yankees in a 1956 exhibition series (That Phantom Season) and the stunning adaptation of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.

The Society Prize By Year: 1980-811981-821982-831983-841984-851985-861986-871987-881988-891989-90


The Society Prize In The 1990s: The New Realism[]

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The Silence Of The Lambs swept the international awards at the 22nd Annual Society Prizes.

Main article: The Society Prize in the 1990s

As the 1990s began, the tide of cinema in New Libertaria began to turn towards a renewed emphasis on realism. As the Society Prizes bestowed honors on international films, the awards began to reflect this new realism. The decade became dominated by directors who offered powerful variations on this new realist approach - from the landmark work of Martin Scorsese in dissecting decades in the life of an American gangster (Goodfellas) to powerful depictions of living history by the legendary Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan) to the bleak, dark humor of Fargo. The movies reflected a turn towards a new realist approach. Sweeping the international awards, The Silence Of The Lambs became the second film since Blood Simple to sweep the international Society Prizes.

The Society Prizes also ventured outside Hollywood fare by turning in 1996 to honor a French adaptation of Les Miserables, a film notable for its lacerating indictment of French collaborators under Nazi occupation, a sore subject which kept the film from being submitted by the French for Oscar consideration in the Foreign Language category. The Prizes also bestowed the Libby on a number of performances that personified the new realist approach with awards going to Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade), Russell Crowe (The Insider) and Burt Reynolds (Boogie Nights). Emily Watson won special acclaim for her Libby-winning turn in Breaking The Waves.

On the domestic front, the biggest winner of the decade was the much-loved romantic drama The Garlic Rose, a tale of unrequited love between a war widow and her immigrant Korean gardener. In 1992, the Society Prize also honored the controversial adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses. Other films honored included The Horse Regiment, a romanticized account of the decommissioning of the last cavalry unit in the military and the conversion to armored warfare. The prizes also honored the war drama, A Stand For The Fallen. Also taking honors were Communion Of Saints, a story of the Ecumenical Defense League that was instrumental in the overthrow King Benedict II; The Licking Memory, a highly personal drama set in the world of 1940s mental institutions; and Bounty Islands, a drama of 19th Century fishermen struggling against economic hardship and “fighting the merciless sea with only their will.”

The Society Prize By Year: 1990-911991-921992-931993-941994-951995-961996-971997-981998-991999-2000


The Society Prize In The 21st Century: The New Traditionalism[]

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The movie 300 was named Best Picture at the 37th Annual Society Prizes.

Main article: The Society Prize in the 21st Century

As New Libertaria entered the 21st Century, the taste in film began to change again. After a decade of movement towards realism that often touched on grittier themes, the Society Prizes began to rebel. Over the next decade, traditionalist themes began to emerge in the Best Picture category - romanticism (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind, Lost In Translation), heroism (300, Munich, Invictus), and classicalism (Gangs Of New York, No Country For Old Men).

The acting Libbies also touched on these timeless themes of traditional values with honors going twice to Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs Of New York, There Will Be Blood) for his classic portrayals. Don Cheadle and Paul Giamati tied for Best Actor, a rare feat that had not been since Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone tied for the award in 1977 (Taxi Driver and Rocky). Acting honors also went to romantic performances by Scarlett Johansen and William Murray (Lost In Translation) which propelled the Sofia Coppola film to a rare sweep. Among the female performances honored, Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line), Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) and Gillian Anderson (House Of Mirth) marked the highlights. Surprising winners included Robert Downey Jr. for his comic turn in Tropic Thunder and Keisha Castle-Hughes for her portrayal of a young Maori girl in Whale Rider, a performance that deeply resonated with the nation’s large minority Maori population.

In domestic films, Kan-Shiketsu (a remake of the 1982 classic Chan Is Missing) and its sequel Kan-Shiketsu: Return Of the Brutal Knives, were big winners. The romantic wartime drama Casual Pleasantries, Pleasant Casualties, exploring the impact of marital infidelity during World War Two, was honored. The darkly-comic thriller Last Day Of Rasputin, on the backs of a dynamic performance from Richard Kiel as the mad monk, told the riveting story of the plot to assassinate Rasputin in the court of the Romanovs. The Manor Class was a highly acclaimed dramatic-comedy of manners reminiscent of the best work by Noel Coward or George Bernard Shaw.

The Society Prize By Year: 2000-012001-022002-032003-042004-052005-062006-072007-082008-092009-10

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