Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

John Sayles' biography

Born in Schenectady, N.Y., in 1950, John Sayles graduated from Williams College in 1972. In the late 1970s he worked for infamous low-budget producer Roger Corman, and soon learned he could finance his own independent films through earnings as a screenwriter.

Sayles has directed 18 films and collected numerous nominations and awards. His 1979 directorial debut, "Return of the Secaucus 7," is preserved in the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.

In 1992 Sayles' screenplay and Mary McDonnell's lead performance in "Passion Fish" were nominated for Academy Awards. In 1997 Sayles earned his second Academy Award nomination for best screenplay for "Lone Star."

Sayles published his first novel, "Pride of the Bimbos," in 1975, followed by 1978's "Union Dues," which was nominated for a National Book Award and a National Critics’ Circle Award.

His other novels include "Los Gusanos" (1990) and "A Moment in the Sun" (2011). His short story collections include "The Anarchists' Convention "(1979) and "Dillinger in Hollywood" (2004).

Sayles has worked with creative partner and producer Maggie Renzi since 1978. He is known for casting a recurring repertory of actors, most notably Chris Cooper, David Strathairn, and Gordon Clapp.

In 2014 Sayles will receive the Modern Language Association's Phyllis Franklin Award for Public Advocacy of the Humanities.