Bill Pohlad

Producer. 12 Years a Slave
Nominated for: Best Feature

As founder and CEO of River Road Entertainment, BILL POHLAD has been producing quality films for more than twenty years. His ability to seek out compelling material and bring it to light has established his reputation as a producer unafraid to take creative risks.

The veteran producer makes his return to directing with the upcoming film Love & Mercy, which centers on Brian Wilson, the mercurial singer, songwriter and leader of The Beach Boys. Unlike a conventional biopic, the film will paint an intimate portrait of the artist by interweaving seminal moments in his life, from his artistic genius to his profound struggles, and the love that keeps him alive. Love & Mercy, which Pohlad is also producing, will star John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti.

River Road most recently optioned the film rights to Joanna Smith Rakoff’s upcoming novel, My Salinger Year. The company has also optioned the rights to Karen Thompson Walker’s debut novel, The Age of Miracles, which will be adapted by Seth Lochhead and directed by Catherine Hardwick. Partnering with Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea’s Pacific Standard, Bill Pohlad will produce Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir Wild. Witherspoon is set to play the lead role, and Fox Searchlight Pictures has recently acquired worldwide distribution rights.

Also in development at River Road is The Blue Car, written by Tim Sexton and Bill Pohlad. The film is about famed Scottish Formula One driver Jackie Stewart, his wife Helen, and Stewart’s young teammate, Francois Cevert, and their experiences during Stewart’s final season in 1973.

Pohlad is one of the most distinguished producers in independent film. His producorial effort The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain, was nominated for three Academy Awards®, including Best Picture. Previously The Tree of Life won the Palme d’Or, the highest honor at the 2011 Cannes International Film Festival, and shared the prize for Best Feature at the 2011 Gotham Independent Film Awards, in addition to being named one of the top ten films of the year by the National Board of Review.

In 2007, Pohlad produced Sean Penn’s award-winning adaptation of Into the Wild, based on the best-selling book by Jon Krakauer. The film premiered at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals and garnered two Academy Award nominations as well as nods from The Directors Guild, The Writers Guild, and SAG, among others.

Pohlad has also served as executive producer on numerous films including Ang Lee’s Academy Award-winning epic, Brokeback Mountain, the highly acclaimed LustCaution, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival; and Robert Altman’s final piece, A Prairie Home Companion. In 2010, Pohlad produced Doug Liman’s Fair Game, starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts and The Runaways, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning.

Pohlad and River Road have also been responsible for executive producing numerous feature documentaries including Robert Kenner’s Academy Award nominated documentary, Food, Inc.; Brett Morgan’s political documentary Chicago 10, which opened the 2007 Sundance Festival; and Jonas Åkerlund’s I’m Going to Tell You a Secret, which chronicled Madonna’s Re-Invention World Tour.

Pohlad wrote, directed and co-produced his first feature film, Old Explorers, starring veteran actors Jose Ferrer and James Whitmore in 1990. He has also directed and produced a number of commercial and documentary film projects over the years.