Awards season doesn’t start in Hollywood until early spring, but the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is ahead of the game with its annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film, this year honoring the life-long career of actor Warren Beatty.
The Bacara Resort made an idyllic setting for the black-tie event. Big-time donors, film industry professionals, and members of the community dressed in elegant gowns and spiffy suits for this well-attended event, complete with a red carpet and pre-reception hors d’oeuvres.
At the banquet, guests enjoyed speeches from a variety of presenters such as big-screen actors Lily Collins, Don Cheadle, and Kirk Douglas to film festival director Roger Durling and newly elected president Lynda Weinman.
Each presenter seemed in awe of Beatty’s remarkable film career, charm, remarkable storytelling and political activism.
Beatty’s long list of accomplishments includes being nominated twice by the Academy for producing, directing, writing, and starring in the same film; winning six of 18 Golden Globe nominations; and numerous lifetime achievement awards.
“It’s easy to get lost in all the honors and accolades,” Don Cheadle said of Beatty, his costar and director in Bulworth. “He is the master of the unconventional. Big layers are complemented by social impact and real resonance.”
With a half-century long career and a filmography of iconic movies, Beatty has outlasted a lot of his contemporaries. Appropriately, much of his cinematic inspiration came from Douglas himself. In a video message to the actor, who celebrates his 100th birthday next week, Beatty said, “I could see through you the possibilities of acting, producing, and directing at the same time.”
The speeches, film reels, and admiration from everybody in the room showed that Beatty’s impact on contemporary American cinema and society continues to thrive. “My life remains of movies as an artf orm, and politics as a life form,” he said.