Description from TIFF 2011 catalog by Thom Powers:

When you see the name Sony Pictures Classics, you can expect a quality film. That’s no small feat in a business that often panders to the lowest common denominator. Founders Michael Barker and Tom Bernard take a different tack by gambling on the kind of intelligent and international cinema that others consider too risky. Their roster of directors reads like a pantheon of world talent: Woody Allen, Pedro Almod&”243;var, Susanne Bier, David Cronenberg, Guillermo del Toro, Norman Jewison, Ang Lee, Errol Morris, Gus Van Sant, Mike Leigh, Zhang Yimou, and the list goes on and on.

To celebrate the company’s twentieth anniversary, Mavericks presents a special conversation with Barker and Bernard. The discussion will be moderated by Jonathan Demme, who worked with the duo most recently on Rachel Getting Married. They have an unlimited supply of stories from behind the scenes at the Toronto International Film Festival, Cannes and the Oscars — as well as less glamorous backdrops.

The partnership dates back to 1981. Barker recalls Bernard telling him, “Listen. You have skills I do not have. I have skills you do not have. Imagine what we could do together.” They paired for stints with United Artists Classics and Orion Classics, working with the likes of Fran&”231;ois Truffaut on The Last Metro and Akira Kurosawa on Ran. Since founding Sony Pictures Classics with Marcie Bloom in 1992, they’ve established an enviable track record with foreign films (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; The Lives of Others), American auteurs (Midnight in Paris; Capote) and documentaries (Inside Job; The Fog of War).

“I have always in my life wanted to be part of [artistry] even though I could never be an artist myself,” Barker told an interviewer in The Hollywood Reporter. “This was the place where we could be part of these artists’ lives but in a meaningful, positive way&”8230;. The artists want their movies to be seen.”

For cinema lovers, this is a unique opportunity to hear how some of the most lauded films of our time were shepherded to success.