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Will Smith multifaceted talents to be recognised at Santa Barbara


Will Smith, multifaceted actor, producer and writer, will be this year’s recipient of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Modern Master Award, it was announced today by SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.

Smith has the distinction of being a cross-generational draw as well as being able to break through various genres of films. Having first endeared himself as a fresh new artist in TV’s “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” Smith emerged as a genuine leading man with his romantic turn in “Hitch;” an action hero saving the world several times from certain doom in “Men in Black,” “Independence Day” and “I, Robot;” and has donned the silks of the legendary Muhammad Ali for his Academy Award nominated role in ‘Ali.’ In his latest and truly compelling role, Smith portrays Christopher Gardner, a struggling salesman who takes custody of his son (played by son, Jaden Smith) as he's poised to begin a life-changing professional endeavor in this year’s highly anticipated holiday film “The Pursuit of Happyness,” based on a true story.

Smith, an Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated actor and a Grammy Award winning rapper, proves once and for all that he is a true renaissance man. “Will Smith has proven at an early age that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the film industry – he’s a Modern Master for the 21st century. We are truly delighted to honor him with this award,” said Roger Durling, SBIFF Executive Director.

The Modern Master Award is the highest honor presented by the 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, and George Clooney. Will Smith’s outstanding contribution to the film industry as an actor, producer, composer, and writer epitomize his commitment to the audience, as well as his devotion to the tradition of quality filmmaking.

The festivities will take place at the historic Arlington Theatre, with a multimedia presentation produced by Paul Fagen of P. Fagen Productions. Pre-sale tickets for events are on sale NOW at Ticketmaster, or at the Arlington Theater Box office, 805.963.4408. Or visit Festival Passes and packages are also currently on sale. Call the Lobero Box Office at 888.456.2376 or 805-963-0761 or log onto for more information.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, set to run January 25 through February 4, 2007, 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 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Field Trip to the Movies, and educational seminars. With a projected audience of over 60,000 viewing more than 200 films over its eleven-day run, SBIFF attracts an affluent local and national consumer base, while maintaining strong ties with the entertainment industry in nearby Los Angeles.

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