The Gene Siskel Film Center (GSFC) of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a beacon in the film industry for more than 40 years. Formerly the Film Center of the SAIC, it was renamed after the late film critic in 2000 and has maintained its pledge to present world-class, independent, international and classic films since its inception. The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago not only celebrates the art of cinema, but also delivers brilliance in film programming and festivals to over 80,000 every year.
The majority of cinemas around the country focus on commercial movies, rather than artistic films and, thus, the GSFC of the SAIC fills an important need. "Where else do you have the world famous Black Harvest Film Festival, the EU Film Festival, the Iranian Film Festival, the Asian Film Festival and many others? The students of SAIC, the great people of the city of Chicago and those in the State of Illinois get to enrich their lives," said Advisory Board Chair of the GSFC and Founder of Art(n), Ellen Sandor.
On June 6th, at the annual awards ceremony, dinner and fundraiser supporting the GSFC's eclectic year-round film programming, lecture series and discussions with visiting scholars and filmmakers, Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo was honored with the coveted Renaissance Award. The dinner was followed by a candid conversation between Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips and Mr. Ruffalo.
Ruffalo is probably best known for his role of Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Avengers (2012) and The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and his Academy Award nominated roles in the Kids Are All Right (2010) and Foxcather (2014). Ruffalo, who is also a director (Sympathy for the Delicious, 2009), has another movie coming out this June, called, Infinitely Polar Bear in which he plays a manic-depressive father and husband.
From the red carpet, minutes before the ceremony, an understated, thoughtful and genuinely approachable, Ruffalo credited his Catholic upbringing for his progressive thinking and support for the underdog.
The actor is a strong voice for addressing climate change and increasing renewable energy. In 2011, he co-founded Water Defense, an organization devoted to the guiding principal that clean water is a basic human right. Ruffalo helped launch The Solutions Project in 2012 as part of his mission to share science, business and culture that demonstrate the feasibility of renewable energy. In regards to his on-going, on-line presence supporting environmental and social causes, Ruffalo had this to say with an unapologetic laugh, "Sometime you gotta get your ass kicked for what you believe in."
Enjoy the video above of an unassuming and honest Ruffalo commenting on what attracted him to acting, his views on politics, the actors that he emulates, words of advice for young actors, the diversity of his roles and his favorite snack.