Guests gathered at the Bacara Resort & Spa, which began with a reception flowing with champagne from Möet Chandon, followed by dinner.
In a presentation that took a look at a career that spans well over four decades, the guests — which also included Roger Corman, Cheryl Ladd, Carol Burnett and Anthony Zerbe, were reminded of his extensive filmography, ranging from Mean Streets, The Godfather: Part II, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, to Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Heat and Meet the Parents, all the way through to this year’s critically acclaimed Silver Linings Playbook. Co-star Bradley Cooper and director David O. Russell both spoke about the profound impact De Niro has had on each of their lives.
Introduced by SBIFF Director Roger Durling, Kirk talked about De Niro’s many memorable roles, noting that “De Niro doesn’t simply portray a character, he becomes the character.”
Kirk went on to say that after last year’s event, which honored his son Michael Douglas, he felt it was the appropriate time to retire from presenting his namesake award. But when De Niro accepted the invitation to be honored, the festival asked Kirk who should present the award, to which Douglas responded…”You talking to me?” He couldn’t pass up the opportunity to honor his good friend.
This was not the only celebration of the evening, as the next day Kirk would be celebrating his 96th birthday. Roger Durling led the guests in a resounding chorus of “Happy Birthday” before inviting Kirk on stage. De Niro, in turn, presented an incredible birthday gift to Kirk…an original script of “Raging Bull” signed by him, Joe Pesci and Martin Scorsese.
De Niro closed out the evening saying “You know, there isn’t a Robert De Niro Award. If there ever is a Robert De Niro Award, I’d want it to be not just for excellence in film, but also for excellence as a human being. And the first recipient will be Kirk Douglas. This Kirk Douglas Award will occupy a special place on my shelf…and a special place in my heart.”
That 28th Santa Barbara International Film Festival takes place January 24 through February 3, 2012. For information, log in.