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Robin Williams To Be Honored At San Francisco International Film Festival



Wednesday, March 21----- The San Francisco Film Society announced today that Robin Williams will be the recipient of the Peter J. Owens Award to be presented at the San Francisco International Film Festival (April 26–May 10, 2007), which is celebrating its landmark 50th anniversary this year, making it the oldest film festival event in the Americas.

The Owens Award, named after local cultural benefactor and longtime Film Society board member Peter J. Owens, honors an actor whose work exemplifies brilliance, independence and integrity. The award will be presented to Williams at the Film Society Awards Night on Thursday, May 3 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. In addition, Williams will also appear at a public presentation at the Castro Theatre on Friday, May 4 for a program featuring career retrospective film clips, an onstage interview, and a screening of Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King, one of his best-loved films.

“A perennial top-finisher, with Albert Einstein, in the best-loved genius stakes, Robin Williams is a superb actor with many wonderful roles under his belt, but his greatest performances, the ones for which he is adored and admired the world over, are when he is being his brilliant prismatic self,” Graham Leggat, SFFS executive director, stated. “We are very excited and happy that Robin is accepting our Owens Award at the 50th International.”

An Academy Award-winning actor and a multiple Grammy-winning performer, Robin Williams, in his fourth decade as an actor, continues to stretch in both comedy and drama, adding more indelible characters to an already impressive repertoire. Williams first captured the attention of the world as Mork from Ork on the hit series Mork & Mindy. Born in Chicago and raised in Michigan and California, he trained at New York's Julliard School under John Houseman. Williams made his cinematic debut as the title character in Robert Altman’s Popeye. Additional early motion picture credits include Paul Mazursky’s Moscow on the Hudson, in which he played a Russian musician who decides to defect, and The World According to Garp, George Roy Hill’s adaptation of John Irving’s acclaimed best-selling novel about a writer and his feminist mother.

In 1997, the actor received Academy and Screen Actors Guild awards for his performance as Sean Maguire, the therapist who counsels Matt Damon’s title character—a math genius—in Gus Van Sant's Good Will Hunting. The Academy previously nominated Williams for best actor in The Fisher King, Dead Poets Society and Good Morning Vietnam. Williams garnered a special honor from the National Board of Review for his performance opposite Robert DeNiro in Awakenings. In 2004, Williams received the prestigious Career Achievement Award from the Chicago International Film Festival and, in 2005, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association honored him with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.

The Night ListenerThe Night ListenerWilliams is one of the only top flight actors who moves seamlessly from physical comedy roles to serious dramatic parts, as well as from Hollywood blockbusters (Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage, Hook, Alladin, Night at the Museum, Happy Feet) to edgy dramatic roles in independent films (One Hour Photo, Insomnia, The Night Listener).

Williams, who began his career as a stand-up comedian, is well known for his free-associative monologues and for pointing out life’s absurdities through his astute social and political observations. After a 20-year absence from the stand-up scene, Robin hit the road and toured America with a critically acclaimed one-man show that visited 36 cities. The tour became the highest-grossing comedy tour ever and culminated in a final performance filmed by HBO and broadcast live from New York on July 14, 2002. The special was nominated for five Emmy Awards.

Offstage, Williams takes great joy in supporting causes too numerous to identify−covering the spectrum from health care and human rights, to education, environmental protection, and the arts. He toured the Middle East three times in as many years to help raise morale among the troops and is, perhaps, best known philanthropically for his affiliation with “Comic Relief”, which was founded in 1986 as a non-profit organization to help America’s homeless. To date, the overall efforts of the "Comic Relief" organization have raised over $50 Million.

Previous recipients of the Peter J. Owens Award have been Ed Harris (2006), Joan Allen (2005), Chris Cooper (2004), Dustin Hoffman (2003), Kevin Spacey (2002), Stockard Channing (2001), Winona Ryder (2000), Sean Penn (1999), Nicolas Cage (1998), Annette Bening (1997) and Harvey Keitel (1996).

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor

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