Revolutionary U.S. producer Jason Blum, known for shepherding hit horror franchises such as “Paranormal Activity” and “The Purge,” and more recently the films “Whiplash,” “Get Out,” and Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” will be honored by the Locarno Film Festival with its Raimondo Rezzonico Prize for a producer who epitomizes the indie ethos.
The prominent Swiss fest dedicated to international indie cinema will be celebrating Blum on its Piazza Grande square, which is Europe’s largest outdoor screening venue, on the evening of Aug. 6. The Locarno tribute comprises screenings of two stand-out titles from his producing career: Jordan Peele’s race-based horror/thriller “Get Out” and M. Night Shyamalan’s multiple personality disorder horror hit “Split.”
Locarno attendees will also be able to attend a panel discussion with Blum on Aug. 7 moderated by the fest’s genre films’ specialist Manlio Gomarasca.
Jason Blum started his career as a producing director with New York’s now dissolved Malaparte theater company founded by Ethan Hawke. After a spell as co-chief of acquisitions and co-prods at Miramax Films in New York, he then set up his own independent outfit Blumhouse Productions, which produced the world-renowned horror franchises “Paranormal Activity,” “The Purge,” “Insidious” and “Sinister.”
“Paranormal Activity,” directed in 2007 by Oren Peli, was famously made on a budget of only $15,000 and grossed nearly $200 million worldwide, making it among the most profitable films in Hollywood history and setting the pattern for Blumhouse’s pioneering production model.
Other standout Blumhouse projects include Ryan Murphy’s 2014 TV drama “The Normal Heart,” for which Blum won an Emmy; Damien Chazelle’s 2014 triple-Oscar winner “Whiplash” and, more recently, “Get Out” which won an Oscar for best original screenplay.
To date Blum, who is 53, has received three Oscar nominations for best film as producer of “Whiplash,” “Get Out” and “BlacKkKlansman” which won the Locarno audience award in 2018.
“Jason Blum has over 75 production credits to his name, despite his relatively young age,” said Locarno artistic director Giona A. Nazzaro in a statement.
“Above all, he has successfully established a sustainable micro-budget production model, reviving genre filmmaking in the process” Nazzaro added, noting that Blum “Has used genre to narrate the various political crises besetting the U.S., overcoming sexist stereotypes and launching acting careers by his constant promotion of new talents.”
“In the tradition of Roger Corman, he has practiced innovation from the inside, but without ever renouncing his critical gaze. Adapting the French New Wave’s concept of an ‘auteur policy,’ we could call Jason Blum’s approach the perfect example of a ‘producer policy’: he creates cinema with an unmistakable touch, and the Locarno Film Festival is honored to celebrate his work,” Nazzaro went on to point out.
The 75th edition of Locarno will run Aug. 3-13.
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