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6 Virtuosos Award at Santa Barbara Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival continues its tradition of honoring the year’s standout performers by presenting The 2009 Virtuosos Award to Viola Davis, Rosemarie DeWitt, Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Melissa Leo and Michael Shannon. The Award presentation will take place Wednesday, January 28 at the 24th edition of the Fest, which runs January 22-February 1, 2009, it was announced today by SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.

The Virtuosos Award was created last year to recognize a select group of actors who have distinguished themselves through performances in film this past year. Last year’s recipients of this inaugural award were Casey Affleck, Marion Cottilard, who went on to win the Best Actress Oscar, James McAvoy, Ellen Page and Amy Ryan.

“Each of these virtuosos have dazzled us with some of the most unexpected, scene-stealing, heart-breaking, uncompromising, fearless and startling performances of the year,” Durling commented.

Those actors who were selected to be recognized for their stand-out performances are: Viola Davis whose performance in “Doubt” exemplifies the kind of acting that opens a window into a complex and troubled soul, revealing the aspirations and desperation of a parent who will fight to ensure that her child grows up living a better life than she had; Rosemarie DeWitt from “Rachel Getting Married” transforms into the character of Rachel luminously and effortlessly. Her performance shows us the beautiful sadness in family members who find themselves separated even when they are together; Sally Hawkins (pending availability), whose brilliant portrayal of the free-spirited primary school teacher Poppy, radiates an infectious sense of joy; Richard Jenkins, a largely unheralded but masterful performer in a wonderfully measured story about change and renewal in Tom McCarthy’s The Visitor; Melissa Leo, whose performance in “Frozen River” as the struggling single mother makes you believe in her character’s resilience and her determination to provide a better life for her family at any cost; and Michael Shannon, whose show-stopping scenes as the outspoken genius just out of the psych ward in “Revolutionary Road” is nothing short of brilliant and epitomizes the saying, “the truth hurts.”

The tribute, produced by Dana Morrow, will take place at the Lobero Theatre at 8pm on Wednesday, January 28. Tickets for the event will go on sale today and can be purchased at or through the Lobero Box Office, 805.963.0761 and the Arlington Theater Box office, 805.963.4408. Festival Platinum and Cinema Passes are currently on sale exclusively at the Lobero Box Office. Box Office fees will apply for all Film Festival Passes, Mini-Paks, and event tickets.
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, set to run January 22 through February 1, 2009, is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching local culture and raising consciousness of film as an art form. SBIFF presents quality American and world independent films, Latin American and Asian sidebars as well as documentary cinema within the beautiful setting of downtown Santa Barbara, a premier tourist destination. The SBIFF is also committed to education through its 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Field Trip to the Movies, and educational seminars. With a projected audience of over 70,000 viewing more than 200 films over its eleven-day run, the SBIFF attracts an affluent local and national consumer base, while maintaining strong ties with the entertainment industry in nearby Los Angeles. For more information, please visit

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