The award will be presented in conjunction with the 50th anniversary
screening of what Wise calls his "third best-known film," "The Day the
Earth Stood Still." Proceeds from the event will be donated to the
American Red Cross National Disaster Relief Fund.
"I think film is a universal language," Wise said. "Films abroad show
people from foreign countries how much more alike we are than unalike.
It's a means of bringing us closer together."
Now 87, Wise has directed more than 30 films -- including "West Side
Story," "The Sound of Music," "The Sand Pebbles" and the 1963 horror
classic "The Haunting."
"Everyone's heard of at least one of the films that Robert Wise has
directed," said Gregg Schwenk, executive director of the film festival.
"This gives people the chance to be able to meet the person who crafted
these legendary films."
Born in Indiana, Wise began his film career in 1938 when he followed
his older brother out to Los Angeles to get a job -- he didn't care what
His brother, who worked in the accounting department of RKO Studios,
set up a number of appointments for him with the heads of various studio
departments. The property department couldn't use him, Wise said, but the
head of film editing needed someone with a strong back who could carry
the film reels back and forth.
After six months, the head sound effects editor, T.K. Wood, asked if
Wise could work with him. He learned how to edit sound, but soon realized
he wanted more. So Wise asked if he could be placed in the picture
department and became an assistant film editor working under William
"He was a marvelous editor," Wise recalls. "He brought me along very
Hamilton allowed Wise to do first cuts of several films and shared
screen credit with him. Both their names appear on the 1939 version of
the "Hunchback of Notre Dame," starring Charles Laughton. On his own,
Wise edited several Fred Astaire-Ginger Roger films and "Citizen Kane."
However, Wise wanted to direct. He was editing "Curse of the Cat
People" when he got his chance. The film, directed by first-timer Gunther