James Schamus
Schamus in 2016
James Allan Schamus[1]

(1959-09-07) September 7, 1959 (age 64)[1]
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
  • Producer
  • screenwriter
  • director
SpouseNancy Kricorian

James Allan Schamus (born September 7, 1959) is an American screenwriter, producer, business executive, film historian, professor, and director. He is a frequent collaborator of Ang Lee, the co-founder of the production company Good Machine, and the co-founder and former CEO of motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company Focus Features, a subsidiary of NBCUniversal. He is currently president of the New York–based production company Symbolic Exchange,[2] and is Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University, where he has taught film history and theory since 1989.

Life and career

Schamus was born in Detroit, Michigan, to a Jewish family.[3] He is the son of Clarita (Gershowitz) Karlin and Julian John Schamus, and was raised in Los Angeles. He is married to writer Nancy Kricorian, with whom he has two children.[4]

His output includes writing or co-writing The Ice Storm, Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hulk (all directed by Ang Lee), and producing Brokeback Mountain and Alone in Berlin. At Focus he oversaw the production and distribution of Lost in Translation, Milk, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Coraline, and The Kids Are All Right. In addition to his tenure at Columbia University, he has also taught at Yale University and at Rutgers University. He is the author of Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word, published by the University of Washington Press. He earned his BA, MA, and Ph.D. in English from University of California, Berkeley.[5]

Schamus made his feature directorial debut with Indignation, an adaptation of Philip Roth's novel of the same name. Schamus also wrote the script for the film, which stars Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, and Tracy Letts, and is the story of a Jewish student at an Ohio college in 1951.[6] The film premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, and was theatrically released by Roadside Attractions on July 29, 2016.[2]

He was president of the jury for the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.[7] He has also been on the jury of the New York International Children's Film Festival,[8] and has served on the editorial boards of Film Quarterly and Cinema Journal, as well as on the board of Creative Capital and the Heyman Center for the Humanities.[9]


Year Title Producer Writer Director Notes
1990 The Golden Boat Yes No Raúl Ruiz
1991 Pushing Hands Yes Yes Ang Lee Also additional scenes
1993 The Wedding Banquet Yes Yes
1994 Eat Drink Man Woman Associate Yes
1995 Sense and Sensibility Yes No
1996 She's the One Yes No Edward Burns
Walking and Talking Yes No Nicole Holofcener
1997 The Ice Storm Yes Yes Ang Lee
1999 Ride with the Devil Yes Yes
2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon No Yes Also songwriter
2003 Hulk Yes Yes
2005 Brokeback Mountain Yes No
2007 Lust, Caution Yes Yes Also songwriter
2009 Taking Woodstock Yes Yes
2014 That Film About Money[10] Yes Yes Himself Short film
2015 Alone in Berlin Yes No Vincent Perez
2016 Indignation[11] Yes Yes Himself Directorial debut
2017 Casting JonBenet[12] Yes No Kitty Green Documentary
2019 Adam Yes No Rhys Ernst
The Tomorrow Man Yes No Noble Jones
The Assistant Yes No Kitty Green
2022 The King's Daughter No Yes Sean McNamara
2025 The Wedding Banquet Yes Yes Andrew Ahn Post-production

Executive producer

Awards and nominations

Year Title Awards/Nominations
1997 The Ice Storm Prix du Scénario (Best Screenplay Award)[15]
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated – WGA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Nominated – Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Original Song
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated – WGA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
2005 Brokeback Mountain BAFTA Award for Best Film
Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama[16]
Independent Spirit Award for Best Film[17]
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Picture
2007 Lust, Caution Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film

Career recognition and honors



Essays and articles

Profiles and interviews


  1. ^ a b IMDB Biography Page, retrieved August 22, 2016
  2. ^ a b McNary, Dave (March 24, 2016). "Logan Lerman's 'Indignation' Gets July Release". Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  3. ^ Rotella, Carlo (November 26, 2010). "The Professor of Micropopularity". The New York Times. The story of America, of Western culture, is often the story of queer culture, of being Jewish" — Schamus is Jewish — "of being outsiders and refugees who find a place that is the not-place.
  4. ^ "James Schamus". IMDb. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  5. ^ "The Man Behind the Movies".
  6. ^ "James Schamus Directorial Debut Indignation Acquired By Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  7. ^ "Berlinale 2014: International Jury". Berlinale. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  8. ^ "NYICFF Jury". Gkids.com. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  9. ^ "James Schamus to be Honored at San Francisco International Film Festival - MovieMaker Magazine". www.moviemaker.com. February 25, 2010. Retrieved February 8, 2023.
  10. ^ "The Economy, Explored on Film". The New York Times. May 26, 2014.
  11. ^ "Indignation". August 11, 2016 – via IMDb.
  12. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (April 15, 2016). "JonBenet Ramsey Murder Case Chronicled In Kitty Green-Directed 'Casting JonBenet'". Deadline. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  13. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 17, 2017). "'Dayveon' Clip: First Look At Sundance NEXT Opener From First-Time Director Amman Abbasi". Deadline. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  14. ^ "James Schamus, China's Meridian board 'A Prayer Before Dawn'". Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  15. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Ice Storm". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  16. ^ Glaister, Dan (January 17, 2006). "'Brokeback Mountain rides high at the Globes'". The Guardian. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  17. ^ Germain, David (March 4, 2006). "'Brokeback' named best independent film". Associated Press (via USA Today). Retrieved April 19, 2012.
  18. ^ "ShowEast to honor James Schamus with Bingham Ray Award | Film Journal International". www.filmjournal.com. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  19. ^ "James Schamus to Receive 2014 Outfest Achievement Award". Outfest. Archived from the original on August 26, 2014. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  20. ^ "2001 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. World Science Fiction Society. September 3, 2001. Archived from the original on May 7, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  21. ^ "Three Schools Honor Faculty, Staff and Public Figures". Columbia University. Retrieved August 20, 2014.