SVFF 2016: Producer Cassian Elwes Ushers in Oscar Winners, Advocates for Diversity 

click to enlarge Boise Weekly News Editor George Prentice and film producer Cassian Elwes at Sun Valley Film Festival 2016. - CAROL WALLER / SUN VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL
  • Carol Waller / Sun Valley Film Festival
  • Boise Weekly News Editor George Prentice and film producer Cassian Elwes at Sun Valley Film Festival 2016.

Movie producer Cassian Elwes (The Butler, The Paperboy) has been at the center of independent film since coming onto the Hollywood scene in the 1980s. Elwes has worked with a who's who of performers—Kevin Costner, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy, Matthew McConaughey, Al Pacino, Natalie Portman, Robert Redford, Kevin Spacey, Kristen Wiig, Michelle Williams—and ushered more than a few films to Oscar glory, such as Blue Valentine, Margin Call, Lee Daniels' The Butler and The Dallas Buyers Club. So it was no surprise that attendees of a March 5 Sun Valley Film Festival 2016 salon featuring Elwes leaned in and listened to his industry insight.

It isn't just Elwes' own career that has garnered him attention, though. In 2013, he launched the Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriter Fellowship to help unpublished screenwriters and, most recently, he created the Sundance Film Festival Horizon Award for female directors, who receive $10,000 scholarships and paid trips to Sundance in order to huddle with the industry's power producers.

"I knew I was never going to solve this issue myself," said Elwes. "But I knew I could make some difference through inspiration."

Of particular interest are Elwes' latest productions: The first, opening in April, is Elvis & Nixon, a new film starring Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) as President Richard Nixon and Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire) as Elvis. The movie unravels the bizarre but true story of an Oval Office meeting between the "two most famous recording artists in history." The second film, set to release later this year, is The Billionaire Boys Club, the 1980s-era story of young men, get-rich-quick schemes and murder.

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