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Redford to be Honored at San Francisco Fest

The San Francisco Film Society announced today that Robert Redford will be the recipient of the Peter J. Owens Award to be presented at the 52nd San Francisco International Film Festival (April 23 - May 7). The Owens Award, named for the longtime San Francisco benefactor of arts and charitable organizations and Film Society board member, honors an actor whose work exemplifies brilliance, independence and integrity. The award will be presented to Redford at Film Society Awards Night on Thursday, April 30, 2009 at the Westin St. Francis Hotel.


The Film Society's acclaimed Youth Education Program will be the beneficiary of the gala black-tie fundraiser honoring Redford and the soon-to-be announced recipients of the Founder's Directing Award and the Kanbar Award for excellence in screenwriting. Penelope Wong and Tim Kochis chair the 2009 Film Society Awards Night committee. Celeste and Anthony Meier are the honorary chairs.

Redford will also be feted in a public onstage tribute at the Castro Theatre Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 7:00 pm. The program will feature career retrospective film clips, audience Q&A and an onstage interview with Phil Bronstein, editor-at-large of the San Francisco Chronicle, followed by the world premiere screening of the restoration of one of Redford's most beloved films, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) directed by George Roy Hill.

"We feel honored to be paying tribute to Robert Redford, a man who is in a class by himself, both on and off the screen," says Graham Leggat, executive director of the San Francisco Film Society. "His intelligence, skill and dedication as an actor have brought to life scores of unforgettable characters, while the same qualities in the service of politics, the arts and the environment have been an inspiration to millions."

One of the world's most recognizable actors for more than 40 years, Redford has maintained his independence within the industry and retained his passion for film as an art. He has devoted his life to making films of social and cultural relevance, as well as to encouraging and developing the talents of young film artists through the extraordinary work of the Sundance Institute. His longtime dedication to political and environmental causes can also be seen threaded throughout his onscreen career.

Redford landed his first Broadway roles in Tall Story, Highest Tree and Little Moon of Alban, and his first starring role in 1961's Sunday in New York followed by the lead in Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, directed by Mike Nichols. In 1969, Redford costarred with Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Directed by George Roy Hill, the film became an instant classic and firmly established Redford as one of the industry's top leading men. The trio reunited for The Sting, which won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, and garnered Redford a Best Actor nomination.

He has since built a distinguished career, starring in such notable features as The Way We Were, The Great Gatsby, Three Days of the Condor, Jeremiah Johnson, The Natural, Out of Africa, Indecent Proposal and Up Close and Personal, among many others. His two overtly political films, All the President's Men and The Candidate resonate just as strongly today as they did when they were made.

A large part of Redford's life is the Sundance Institute, founded in 1981 and dedicated to the development of emerging screenwriters, producers and directors of vision and the exhibition of new independent cinema. Its highly acclaimed screenwriting, directing, playwriting and producing laboratories take place at the Sundance Village mountain retreat in Utah, founded by Redford in 1969. His Sundance Film Festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this January, is recognized as one of the most important showcases of independent cinema in the world.

In 1996, Redford received the Screen Actors Guild's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. It is significant that the movies Redford is proudest of are not the necessarily his blockbusters, but smaller, heartfelt projects, many of which he directed, like Ordinary People, Quiz Show, Jeremiah Johnson and A River Runs Through It. Reflecting on his career, Redford has said, "I have been able to make some films that were important to my soul. That's lucky in an industry that is business first and art second. Art is only accepted when it makes money. To make certain movies close to your heart, you have to hold down the cost, work at least twice as hard and make sacrifices along the way. But it's worth it because doing what you believe in makes a huge difference."

Previous recipients of the Film Society's Peter J. Owens Award are Mario Bello (2008), Robin Williams (2007), 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). The Peter J. Owens Award is made possible through a grant from the Peter J. Owens Trust at the San Francisco Foundation.

For tickets and information for Film Society Awards Night only call 415-561-5005.
For tickets ($20 members/$25 general) and information for the tribute to Robert Redford at the Castro Theatre go to www.sffs.org or call 925-866-9559.

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