Whitaker, 52, will receive the honor at a ceremony Dec. 2 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York.
"We are thrilled to pay honor to a man whose work has played a significant role in the film world over the last 25 years," said Joana Vicente, executive director of the Independent Filmmaker Project, the advocacy organization for indie filmmakers that presents the awards.
"Breaking boundaries and challenging audiences with complex, multifaceted roles, Forest Whitaker is a significant independent voice whose performances have only been elevated by his visionary work as a producer, director and humanitarian."
Previous Gotham honorees include
The nominees for the Gotham Independent Film Awards will be announced Oct. 24.