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News > Eric Roth’s Acceptance Speech

Eric Roth’s Acceptance Speech

It was our esteemed honor to present Eric Roth with the 2012 Distinguished Screenwriter Award at this year’s Festival. Not surprisingly, the man who gave us FORREST GUMP, MUNICH, THE INSIDER, ALI, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, and EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE has a way with words. Many of us were moved to tears by his warm and heartfelt acceptance speech — so much so that we asked him if we could share it with all of you. Read on to be inspired…


Eric Roth: “Barbara said don’t just say thank you.. okay, so..; How did this happen? A kid from Bedford Stuyvesant ends up in the land of cowboys and Indians. A kid whose mother would say everyday.. what did you write today?! And read everything! Who when he was ten she would read the boys books to me The Hardy Boys and Jules Verne and Victor Hugo.. and who would for fun have me pretend to be answering personals in the Saturday review of literature…. Where I would be an English teacher from a small college who loved Chaucer and good food.. Or a blind poet but great companion.. Or when I was thirteen and piss petrified to go to school in the rocky neighborhood she yanked me by the hand and had me take boxing lessons and she was the only voice I could hear when I boxed golden gloves from somewhere in the crowd.. knock him on his ass.. or the first time I remember seeing a movie at the Brooklyn Paramount when I was like eight and she took me up to the balcony and we watched Invaders from Mars…and the stars on the ceiling made it like it was happening in a night sky to me… and leaving Brooklyn in my last year of high school to a place called North Hollywood High School and begging them I don’t even know anybody let me stay with grandma.. or seeing The Sterile Cuckoo at the victory drive-in and later personally thanking Alan Paula for taking my virginity with a girl named Laura Nuccio who I of course never saw again and still of course love beyond imagination.. or my English teachers at Columbia.. or sitting on the lions with Abbie Hoffman.. on strike shut it down.. no Vietnam.. after two of my best friends had ended with their names on the wall.. and movies after movies everyday movies.. Amarcord and The Ruling Class and Weekend and oh my god 2001.. and how I Loved living in those dark places.. Where the music made me weep and my heart would soar at courage and frailty.. and.. at 67.. twenty odd of my own some good some bad some laughable… have done for somebody the same.. and two women who for some reason loved me and gave me a handful plus of children and they gave me near two handfuls of grandchildren later.. who still looks out of a 17-year-old’s eyes.. who sits in a little room and dreams of going down strange rivers to places nobody knows.. of people who run crooked.. Or fight windmills or live on distant planets.. that’s pretty much how it happened and you end up at the Austin Club with a little typewriter and a belly full of chili. Thank you for coming along.”