Writer, director and producer George Tillman, Jr. is a graduate of Columbia College in Chicago. He became inspired to make films on his own after seeing Cooley High and Taxi Driver. In 1994, Tillman wrote and directed his first feature film, Scenes for the Soul. Shot entirely in Chicago using local talent and resources, the film caught the attention of Doug McHenry and George Jackson who acquired it for Savoy Pictures for $1 million. Following on the momentum of this success, Tillman began to write a script, loosely based on his own life – Soul Food. Soul Food’s cast included Vanessa Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Mekhi Phifer, Michael Beach, Irma P. Hall, and Brandon Hammond. Modestly budgeted at $7 million, Soul Food opened to critical and financial success, grossing over $43 million domestically. George’s next directorial effort was Men of Honor, an epic story inspired by the life of Carl Brashear, a man who battled the obstacles of racism, a lack of education, and the loss of his leg to become the United States Navy’s first African American master deep sea diver. The film grossed $85 million worldwide.
With partner Bob Teitel, Tillman co-produced the MGM film, Barbershop. Starring Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve and Cedric the Entertainer, Barbershop opened to record-breaking box office success, spawning the sequel Barbershop 2: Back in Business and Beauty Shop starring Queen Latifah. Tillman returned to the director’s chair with Notorious – about the life and death story of the Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), which was released by Fox Searchlight and grossed over $43M worldwide. Most recently, Tillman directed Faster, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Tillman resides with his family in Los Angeles.
He will be honored at the 49th Chicago International Film Festival – which takes placed October 10-24, 2013 – with a Career Achievement Award at the 17th Annual Black Perspectives Tribute on Friday, October 11. The red carpet event starts at 6 pm at the AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.) and will be followed by a special presentation of Tillman’s latest film The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete. “As a producer, George Tillman, Jr. has played an important role in opening the doors of Hollywood to a new generation of African-American filmmakers and artists,” offers founder and artistic director of the Chicago International Film Festival, Michael Kutza.
Academy Award and Grammy Award-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson, who stars in the film, is scheduled to join Tillman on the red carpet and at the Tribute. An After-party at Altitude at the W Chicago Lake Shore Hotel will immediately follow the tribute and film presentation.
“As a writer and director, Tillman has told funny, inspiring and heartbreaking stories that capture the energy and complexity of the African-American experience. We are pleased and honored to present him with this award and we are also delighted to welcome back past Black Perspectives honoree Jennifer Hudson to the Festival. Hudson shares Tillman’s deep love for this city. I am quite sure this evening will be special for both of them,” adds Kutza.