The San Francisco International Film Festival Honors Kevin Spacey
and Warren Beatty
emily blunt report
(back story here)
International Film Festival is one of the oldest and most
respected festivals in America. Heck they can even get pugilist
Sean Penn to come to their shindig. This year they celebrated
their 45th annual. They are very particular about what they screen
and who they honor. It's all about every aspect in the art of
film making to this festival. They are serious cinephiles!
when I was given last minute clearance to cover the Gala Awards
event for them, I was more than happy to oblige.
First would be The Peter J. Owens Award, named for the longtime
San Francisco benefactor of arts and charitable organizations,
which honors an actor whose work exemplifies brilliance, independence
and integrity. This year they honored Kevin Spacey.
would be The Akira Kurosawa Award for lifetime achievement in
film directing is given each year to one of the masters of world
cinema. This year they gave this honor to Warren Beatty.
While the stars mentioned above lounged by a swanky hotel pool
sipping Pina Coladas and pouting over which designer's tux they'd
wear, Armani or Versaci, my day began with frantic online reservations.
I neeeded, wanted, to also take the time to meet with and
interview Festival Print Coordinator Alex Cantin, an unsung hero
of the festival (the article to follow).
Cramming fourteen hours into just under six I managed to arrive
to the awards just as they began. Event phobic past Peter J. Owens
award recipient, Sean Penn , introduced
the audience to the man they love as an actor, the man he loves
as a friend, Kevin Spacey.
witty, Penn delivered his words in a traditional "roast"
style. With a shared wink and "in" joke he advised he
himself was responsible for all Mr. Spacey knew about acting
(oh, how we laughed
) and how he and his acting friends wondered
how this odd scary fellow, Kevin Spacey, slid into the spot light
and was until then unobserved...under the radar yet so widely
known by all
He of course was joshing and obviously the two
have a warm endearing respect for each other.
it's true Kevin Spacey is somewhat of
a public enigma. Really his super-stardom is a tad of a mystery
too...I mean technically he's not the typical chiseled
leading man type Hollywood usually backs. Not the textbook script
guzzling hack they can bank on. And he's certainly not into playing
the PR game. He's determined to keep himself aloof. So why's this
palooka such a hit? Hmm, must be that immense talent he holds
within that shone so bright it was inevitable
a brief well-done film montage of Spacey's work (spectacular work
by San Fran film maker Jessie Lindow of Insurgency
Pictures-- even though The Shipping News
had been forgotten-again) one of the honored of the evening,
Mr.Kevin -boom boom- Spacey, took the stage to thundering applause.
As expected he was the definition of grace and charm. Yeah, sure
I'd like to dip him in Butterscotch Magic Shell ©brand syrup
and slowly nibble it off, but my biased attractions aside, Spacey's
really is one of our greatest (living) thespians. He's also been
blessed with a rare uncanny old-fashioned charisma that makes
all of those around him feel instantly welcome and comfortable.
He's like a close personal friend, even in a room of four hundred
and fifty. On top of that, unlike say Benicio del Toro or Sarah
Jessica Parker, Kev's a mesmerizing-ly fluent speaker and simply
hysterical with his delivery. Can we clone him...please!
in a handsome tuxedo, and donning an Ackerman smirk and a Keysor
thanked his buddy Sean. He said Sean's "the most fantabulous
two-fisted damn fine example of the most rootin tootin daredevil
and courageous sonofabitch I have the pleasure of calling a friend!"
also told us to note what a totally genuine artist and man Sean
is for showing up for the SFIF45. Kevin said "you can't get
him to the academy awards, but he shows up for San Francisco."
Spacey's idea on getting Penn to the Oscars? "just bring
the Oscars up to Marin County and don't invite the fuckin' press!"
Too true. I worked with some of these rabid press folks at this
season's award shows...talk about swimming with sharks. I don't
know exactly when or how they got this meanspirited but these
celebs aint wrong. I just don't understand these press
what I do understand is Spacey is a unique entity on any level,
megastar or manly man. For example? When he began to accept
his award, he didn't take the time to drone on about the "me"
factor of the night, instead, he took the time in which he held
his audience's attentions to tell us, in detail, all about the
man behind his award, Peter J. Owens.
many listening to him, he hadn't had a good idea of who this fellow
was. Spacey explained he felt like a "dumb ass" and
really needed to know more, especially accepting an award in the
man's name. He said he'd arranged to meet with the family of Mr.
Owens, and look a little closer
told anecdotes about Owens' family pictures. He told of how Peter
J. Owens had aspired to be an actor but went into real estate
instead. And finally he told us about the man's philosophy, which
held a parallelism with Spacey's own. Owens gave back to the arts
for all the joy he had received. He believed spreading his wealth
to assist others in their dreams. Giving voice to the struggling
artist that may not otherwise have had the chance' the very same
theme that runs behind Kevin and friends' Trigger
Street companies. Some people really are good you see.
He finished with an impression of James Mason, giving his brief
personal acceptance speech about his being proud to not only accept
the award but his willingness to continue the Owens' policy to
make the dreams of others come true by giving financial and spiritual
support. As he walked off the stage, I was beaming for him, like
I knew him. I was so proud-sniff! Such a goon I know.
Sharon Stone graced the stage to tell us about Akira Kurosawa,
the great director and the namesake of the next award. She shared
a little bit about how a Kurosawa film breaks the language barrier
and transcends its message plainly, while engrossing you with
old friend of Beatty's Yahoo chairman/CEO (& ex- big kahuna
from Warner Brothers) Terry Semel, took the stage to introduce
the Akira Kurosawa award recipient.
was another man that could have toured as a speech monger.
Elegant, and fantastic timing
of course Spacey still ruled!
After he shared some moments about Warren and his long career
we again watched a wonderful montage of the recipient's work by
Insurgency Pictures to wet our whistles.
Beatty took the stage in a demeanor that reminded me of Bullworth
and firstly thanked the society for the honor. He made a point
of pointing out a few people and letting us know their political
agendas. There were reds, communists, northern California liberals
with southern California bodies, and middle of the road centralists
DLC Clinton democrats scattered through the crowd. I was just
as clueless in Warren's references as when a sports game's blasting
scores and names before me...
He then purred over his beautiful wife Annette
Benning and thought maybe it's time for yet another child.
What do they have six already? After he got that thought he light
heartedly bemoaned the fact that his SFIF45 crystal award was
round and Spacey's was phallic
He said he was still smarting
over the multiple takes of the bedroom scene 'tween the two in
American Beauty and wanted to know if this was some sort of metaphor
he was missing.
not one to miss an opportunity to express his razor wit, leapt
to the stage and exchanged his spiked award with Beatty's ball.
The place just roared.
you may or may not know, has a unique way of delivering his speeches.
They ramble a bit but are nonetheless fascinating for it. He's
intelligent, extremely funny and even gives you a little insight
into his true character-which seems to be a genius that thrives
on pandemonium. He's a rich character and warm individual who
is pleasantly still madly in love with his wife. Awe!
also still an extremely handsome man. I remember my mom
(I mean this in a nice way) was smitten with him when I was a
kid. Never one to go to the movies, she dragged my sister and
I to see Shampoo then Bonnie and Clyde; it must have been a mini-festival.
I thought geese; my mom has great taste in fellows. Though I preferred
the look in Clyde, my mom plain faced debated Beatty looked good
in any era. You go mom!
her adoration for Beatty, I called her after the show and told
her about the evening. She was gloriously oblivious to Kev and
surprisingly versed on Beatty. On
my personal hero Kevin Spacey I got:
"oh, dat vone from dat movie with the bad skin dat you like
(referring to Spacey in Pay It
Forward, the only film I was able to drag her to and could
never convince her it was make-up on the studmuffin's face) She
continued with that parental vocal pat on the head: " Ya-ya,
good for you dat's vunderful." Translation: when will she
get a real job, go into real estate like me and stop this whole
silly movie business thing
However when I mentioned Beatty
she perked right up equal only to the Clooney encounter of 2000.
" Oh, really! Vow! Vas he super handsome? Und how tall is
he? Vat was he wearing? Details! Details! Go on vy you vaiting
tell me!" Oh, mother
Warren's delightful orations the evening came to an end. A few
folks ventured over to Tosca's Cafe for a martini or two
But that's a whole other story -- which
is found here.
as always there's a great back story preempting my arrival for
the awards-- but it required an entire article
itself and can be found here.