WATERVILLE — Actor Debra Winger will be honored next month at the 25th Maine International Film Festival with the Mid-Life Achievement Award, the festival’s most prestigious accolade.

The award will be given to Winger at a special ceremony July 15 at the Waterville Opera House following a 35mm screening of “A Dangerous Woman,” a 1993 film for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination.

Debra Winger will be the recipient of this year’s Mid-Life Achievement Award from the Maine International Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Debra Winger

Winger, 67, was nominated for Academy Awards for her roles in “An Officer and a Gentleman,” 1982; “Terms of Endearment,” 1983; and “Shadowlands,” 1993.

“Winger has had a stellar acting career, working in a wide variety of genres with directors including Bernardo Bertolucci, Jonathan Demme, James L. Brooks, Bob Rafelson and James Bridges,” a film festival news release said.

The 25th annual MIFF, a project of the Maine Film Center, typically draws thousands of film enthusiasts to Waterville over 10 days in July to view what are considered world-class independent films and interact with actors, producers, directors and writers. The Maine Film Center is a division of Waterville Creates. The festival this year will be July 8-17.

“We’re tremendously excited to have Debra join us at the festival this year and to have the chance to showcase the wide diversity of films that she’s given great performances in,” MIFF programming director Ken Eisen said in the release.


Winger joins actors including Sissy Spacek, Ed Harris, Glenn Close, Lili Taylor, Bud Cort, Malcolm McDowell, Peter Fonda, John Turturro, Keith Carradine, Gabriel Byrne and Michael Murphy who have received the award in the past. Film directors including Demme, Walter Hill and Terrence Malick also have received the award.

Winger’s first major film was “Urban Cowboy,” in which she starred with John Travolta in 1980. She earned British Academy Film Award and Golden Globe nominations for that role.

She continued to rise to stardom throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, winning a National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress for “Terms of Endearment” and a second British Academy Film Award nomination for “Shadowlands,” according to the MIFF release. Other accolades followed, including National Society of Film Critics Award nominations for “Everybody Wins” and “The Sheltering Sky” and a Golden Globe nomination for “A Dangerous Woman,” co-starring 2016 MIFF Mid-Life Achievement Award honoree Byrne. After an acting hiatus in the late 1990s, Winger returned to acting, giving acclaimed performances in “Dawn Anna,” “Rachel Getting Married” and “Law & Order.”

Her early career included playing the role of Drusilla, the younger sister of character Diana Prince (Lynda Carter) in the television series “Wonder Woman,” which aired in the 1970s.

Following the award presentation, a party will be held in Winger’s honor at Front & Main at 9 Main St. Admission to the party will be limited to those who purchase tickets to the screening of “A Dangerous Woman,” as well as to festival pass holders. Winger will be in Waterville for several days during the festival for screenings of “Mike’s Murder,” “The Lovers” and “The Sheltering Sky.”

“As we celebrate an incredible MIFF milestone this year — our 25th anniversary — we could not have asked for a more influential and adored special guest than Debra, whose groundbreaking career has made such an impact on American cinema,” Maine Film Center Executive Director Mike Perreault said in the release.

Those wanting to buy festival passes may do so at MIFF.org.

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