Photo Flash: Van Sant's MILK Hollywood Premiere

Academy Award-nominated director Gus Van Sant's Milk, starring Academy Award winner Sean Penn as gay rights icon Harvey Milk, had its Hollywood premiere at the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences building in Beverly Hills, California.

Mr. Milk was an activist and politician, and the first openly gay man to be elected to major public office in America; in 1977, he was voted to the city supervisors' board of San Francisco, representing the Castro District.

From an original screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, Milk is produced by Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, the Academy Award-winning producers of American Beauty, through The Jinks/Cohen Company. Groundswell Productions and Focus Features co-financed Milk, which is a Focus Features presentation in association with Axon Films of a Groundswell production and a Jinks/Cohen Company production. Executive producers of Milk are Groundswell CEO Michael London (an Academy Award nominee for Sideways), Mr. Black, Groundswell's Bruna Papandrea, Barbara Hall, and William Horberg.

Milk will be distributed worldwide by Focus; the film's domestic theatrical run commences on Wednesday, November 26th in select cities (including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco) before expanding in December.

Groundswell Productions is an independent financing and production company formed by Michael London in February 2006 with a mission to create a thriving home for filmmakers with singular voices that reach broad audiences. The company's slate mixes films from established directors and emerging talent alongside comedies and genre films with an original sensibility. Since its inception, Groundswell has produced writer/director Tom McCarthy's The Visitor (a co-production with Participant Productions), starring Richard Jenkins and Hiam Abbass; Appaloosa, directed by Ed Harris, who starred in the film opposite Viggo Mortensen and Renée Zellweger; Noam Murro's Smart People, starring Dennis Quaid, Thomas Haden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Ellen Page; Rawson Marshall Thurber's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, based on the Michael Chabon novel and starring Sienna Miller, Peter Sarsgaard, and Jon Foster; Todd Louiso's The Marc Pease Experience (co-financed by Paramount Vantage), starring Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, and Ben Stiller; Andrew Jarecki's All Good Things, starring Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Frank Langella; and (co-financed with Participant Productions and Warner Bros.) Steven Soderbergh's The Informant, starring Matt Damon.

Focus Features ( exists to produce, acquire and distribute original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success.

In addition to Milk, current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Joel and Ethan Coen's hit comedy thriller Burn After Reading, starring George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, and Brad Pitt; Henry 

Selick's 3-D stop-motion animated feature Coraline, starring Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher; Shane Acker's animated fantasy epic 9, starring Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly; Cary Fukunaga's immigrant thriller Sin Nombre; writer/director Jim Jarmusch's new film, tentatively titled The Limits of Control, starring Isaach De Bankolé; a contemporary comedy directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph; Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man; and Taking Woodstock, the new film from Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee.

Focus Features is part of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.

Photos by Sara De Boer/Retna Ltd.

More On: Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Bruce Cohen, Barbara Hall, Tom McCarthy, Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Thomas Haden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Page.

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