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Santa Barbara International Film Festival highlights

It was announced today by SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling, that Mickey Rourke, star of the upcoming “The Wrestler,” will be honored with the American Riviera Award on Friday, January 30, 2009 at the 24th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Fox Searchlight Pictures will release the film, directed by Darren Aronofsky, in select theaters on December 17th. Past recipients include Tommy Lee Jones, Forrest Whitaker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Bacon and Diane Lane.

“America is all about second chances,” commented Durling, “and so it's appropriate that the American Riviera Award that always goes to a U.S. actor should be given this year to Mickey Rourke - who has shown us with his performance in ‘The Wrestler’ to never underestimate a true artist and his power to reinvent himself.”

This honor comes on the heels of Rourke’s latest film, “The Wrestler,” a powerful portrait of retired professional wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) who tries to get back in the game for one final showdown with his formal rival. Rourke’s performance has been described by Newsweek as “the kind of harmonic convergence of player and part that happens once in a blue moon - the actor vanishing so completely inside a role that our sense of his ‘real’ identity is permanently altered.” Rourke’s portrayal of the has-been fighter is physical, invested and powerful-- but it's also quiet, sad and hauntingly wounded, as well.

Mickey Rourke, one of the few true method actors of today and a graduate of New York’s Actor’s Studio, is this generation’s classic working actor. His career has been defined by his performances in such films as “Body Heat,” the cult classic “Diner,” the coming-of-age tale, “Rumble Fish,” the controversial and sexually-themed box-office hit “9 ½ Weeks,” “Barfly,” “Pope of Greenwich Village,” “Francesco,” the Oliver Stone-penned “Year of the Dragon” and Alan Parker’s “Angel Heart.” In 2005, Rourke made his mainstream comeback, receiving acclaim with a lead role in Robert Rodriguez’s “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” and “Sin City.” Rourke followed that with a supporting role in Tony Scott’s “Domino” alongside Keira Knightly.

Rourke's forthcoming releases include “Killshot” written by Elmore Leonard and The Informers” directed by Gregor Jordan.

The festivities will take place at the historic Arlington Theatre with a multimedia presentation produced by Paul Fagen of P. Fagen Productions. Tickets for the Tribute to Mickey Rourke for the American Riviera Award will go on sale today and can be purchased at a 20% discount until December 12 through or through the Lobero Box Office 805.963.0761 and the Arlington Theater Box office, 805.963.4408. Mini-Paks for the festival (NOT passes) are also discounted 20% until November 28. 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. The 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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