By Justin Lowe | Thompson on Hollywood February 11, 2011 at 7:03AM
A week of celebrity tributes honoring Oscar-nominated directors and actors at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival concluded Feb. 5 with Nicole Kidman appearing to receive the Cinema Vanguard Award at the city’s spectacular single-screen theater, the 2000-seat Arlington, reports Justin Lowe. Christopher Nolan, James Franco, Annette Bening and Geoffrey Rush were among the luminaries accepting awards earlier in the fest.
A packed house greeted SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling, who began the program by introducing a 15-minute clip reel featuring a variety of films from the Oscar-winning actress’ career – from her early appearances in the 1991 romance Flirting and the comedy/thriller To Die For, to more recent titles The Hours, Cold Mountain and Margot at the Wedding, as well as one of Durling’s personal favorites, Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s musical Moulin Rouge.
In a wide-ranging discussion about her career and movies, Kidman had high praise for the best directors she’s worked with: “I would compare them to modern-day philosophers,” she said.
She also discussed her role as a producer on Rabbit Hole and Jane Campion’s regrettably overlooked thriller In the Cut: “I’m producing scripts that no one else wants to.” Her next producing gig is the romantic comedy Monte Carlo, starring Leighton Meester (The Roommate). Referencing her role in the upcoming Go With It, co-starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, Kidman says that although she’s often associated with dramatic roles, “I love doing comedy – I pride myself on having a good sense of humor.”
The 90-minute program broke periodically for highlight reels featuring her starring roles in such films as Dogville, Cold Mountain and Single White Female and concluded with Entertainment Weekly’s Dave Karger presenting Kidman with the Cinema Vanguard Award amid heartfelt applause from the audience.
The festival closed the next day with the live opera performance film Carmen in 3D. Durling announced the fest awards that morning at an intimate filmmaker and press brunch. Top prize for the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema went to the Australian drama Face To Face, directed by Michael Rymer. The festival’s SB Independent Audience Choice Award was the documentary Troubadours, a chronicle of the early 70s LA singer-songwriter movement, featuring performers James Taylor and Carole King, and directed by Morgan Neville. The full list of winners is here. Locals and ambitious cinephiles can still catch free screenings of the award winners this Saturday and Sunday during the festival’s “3rd Weekend” in Santa Barbara.
[Photo of Nicole Kidman and SBIFF director Roger Durling by Rebecca Sapp]