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Clint Eastwood 2009 Modern Master Award in Santa Barbara

Multiple Academy Award® winning director, producer, actor and composer Clint Eastwood has been selected to receive the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s highest honor, The Lucky Brand® Modern Master Award, it was announced by SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling. The Tribute will take place on Thursday, January 29, at the historic Arlington Theatre.

The Lucky Brand® Modern Master Award is the highest honor presented by SBIFF. Established in 1995, it was created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through his/her accomplishments in the motion picture industry. Past Modern Masters recipients include Michael Douglas, Peter Jackson, Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sean Penn, Jeff Bridges, Diane Keaton, George Clooney, Will Smith, and Cate Blanchett.

Comments SBIFF Director Roger Durling, “Clint Eastwood is inarguably one of our greatest directors, one of our greatest producers and one of our greatest actors ever - to call him a Modern Master is simply an understatement.”

Eastwood is a cinematic icon both in front of and behind the camera. His presence on screen is quiet yet powerful, as seen in the drama “Gran Torino,” marking his first film role since his Oscar®-winning film “Million Dollar Baby.” In “Gran Torino,” Eastwood stars as an iron-willed and inflexible Korean War veteran, living in a changing world, who is forced by his immigrant neighbors to confront his own long-held prejudices.

When directing, Eastwood’s films tend to possess an unforced naturalism of manner that is glad to bend, even break, with strict realism as well as with strict generic conventions, evidenced in his most recent film, “Changeling,” a drama starring Angelina Jolie in the true story of an infamous 1928 kidnapping case that rocked the LAPD, produced and directed by Eastwood.

His passion for film in both acting and directing is clearly visible by the projects that he chooses. The films Eastwood attaches himself to always have thought and meaning within them, such as “Bird,” the biopic of the famous jazz musician, Charlie Parker, for which he won a Golden Globe in 1993 for Best Director and the revisionist western “Unforgiven” in 1994 which went on to win an Academy Award® for Best Picture and garnered a Best Director win. In 1995 Eastwood produced, directed and starred opposite Meryl Streep in “The Bridges of Madison County.” In 2003, the critically acclaimed drama “Mystic River” starring Sean Penn and Tim Robbins went on to earn six Academy Award® nominations , including two for Eastwood for Best Picture and Best Director. In 2005, Eastwood won Academy Awards® for Best Picture and Best Director- his second in both categories- for “Million Dollar Baby.” He also earned a nomination for Best Actor for his performance in the film opposite Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. In 2007, Eastwood earned dual Academy Awards® nominations, in the categories of Best Director and Best Picture, for his acclaimed World War II drama “Letters from Iwo Jima,” and the companion film “Flags of Our Fathers.” Eastwood will next direct and produce the historical drama “The Human Factor,” starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman in the role of Nelson Mandela.

Last night’s red carpet event could have been something written in a movie. Our Modern Master had a local driver drop him off at the award ceremony. With fans filling the streets and ticket holders wrapped around the block, red carpet access was limited to say the least. So limited in fact, that when I arrived there was nary a sliver of space to even sneak through, which made Mr. Eastwood’s entrance all the more incredible.
As the festival powers-that-be, press and fans waited with anxious anticipation for Eastwood to arrive on the right, a roar erupted from the left. Like an air dropped character from some action film, Eastwood appeared in the midst of the crowd, climbed over the stanchions and landed on the carpet unscathed.

Moderator Leonard Maltin, and Tribute Directors Paul Fagen and Douglas D. Smith magically morphed five decades of an auspicious career into a memorable evening of anecdotes for a packed house of enthusiastic fans.

One of the funniest bits of the night was when Sean Penn offered up some TMI insights that Leonard Maltin apparently missed in his research. Things like Clint’s birth weight of 11 ½ lbs, how he joined the U.S. Army during the Korean War and had to swim three miles back to shore after a plane crash in the Pacific, and how anyone going up against Dirty Harry, in real life or not, would certainly NOT be feeling LUCKY.

The after party was a private access of which I was not private enough to attend. However, in hopes of returning a scarf to its rightful owner, I ended up at the party and as the evening started winding down, it happened, the man of the evening, like everyone else in my life snubbed me. While in conversation with his wife, Eastwood wrapped his arms around me and simply said, “Hey, why don’t you stand up when you’re talking.”

Oh yeah, so original Mr. Eastwood, like a short person never heard that before …
And the moral?
I’m in talks with my husband about starting a family since because now I have something to tell the kids.
Kimberly Deisler writes on the Santa Barbara's blog on fest21.com

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