One of the film industry's steadiest craftsmen, and one of its most gifted character actresses, will be honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards during the eighth-annual Savannah Film Festival, running Saturday through Nov. 5 under the stewardship of the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Director Sidney Lumet, who cut his teeth on stage and in live TV, has enjoyed a diverse career distinguished by such films as "12 Angry Men" (1957), "Fail-Safe" (1964) and "Network" (1976). A five-time Academy Award nominee ? actors in his films have earned more than 20 nominations ? the 2005 recipient of a long-overdue honorary Oscar will be on hand for Saturday's opening night gala.
Also being honored is Ellen Burystn, an Oscar and Tony Award-winning actress who, after a lengthy apprenticeship in TV and on stage, wowed film audiences with her performances in "The Last Picture Show" (1971), "The Exorcist" (1973), "Harry and Tonto" (1974) and "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (1974), the last of which made her a front-rank star. Burstyn, more recently mesmerizing in such films as "Requiem for a Dream," will appear at the festival Nov. 4.
Likewise being given a Lifetime Achievement Award, but unable to attend, is actor Peter Falk, whose renown as TV's sly detective Lt. Columbo has tended to obscure his fine work in motion pictures. Falk, a two-time Academy Award nominee and five-time Emmy Award winner, is marshaling Oscar buzz for his performance in Paul Reiser's "The Thing About My Folks."
Also slated to appear and receive Outstanding Achievement in Cinema awards are actor Jeff Daniels (Monday), whose films "The Squid and the Whale" and "Good Night and Good Luck" (see story, page 17-F) will screen during the festival, and actress Natasha Richardson (Sunday). The daughter of British actress Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson, she has spent much of her career on stage. In addition to the acclaimed Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie" (1993), in which she co-starred with husband-to-be Liam Neeson, Richardson won a Tony Award for playing Sally Bowles in the 1998 Broadway revival of "Cabaret." Upcoming for Richardson is the movie "The White Countess," a Merchant Ivory production that also stars Ralph Fiennes, aunt Lynn Redgrave and mom Vanessa.
Other festival highlights include the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award in animation to the team of Don
Bluth and Gary Goldman ("Titan A.E.," "An American Tail"), a Lifetime Achievement Award in sound and editing to Walter Murch ("Cold Mountain," "Apocalypse Now") and a screening of "The Ape" by its writer-director and star James Franco ("Spider-Man"). Screenwriter and comic actor Buck Henry ("The Graduate," "To Die For") will be on hand to discuss Franco's film, while Terry George, director of "Hotel Rwanda," is yet another luminary scheduled to attend.
To be held in the SCAD Trustees Theater and the Lucas Theatre, the Savannah Film Festival showcases a range of short and feature-length offerings made by professionals and students. Tickets and passes to the festival are available at the Trustees Theater box office, 216 E. Broughton St., or by phone at (912) 525-5050. A gold pass ($300) allows buyers to attend all films, workshops, lectures, and opening and closing night receptions. Silver ($200) and Bronze ($100) also are available, as are individual tickets at $5 per film, workshop or lecture ($3 for seniors).
For more information, visit the festival's Web site at www.scad.edu/filmfest.
At 47, Madonna has gotten religion. Sort of. And the singer-dancer is keen to warn folks of the error of their ways in her new tour film, "I'm Going to Tell You a Secret," in which the former Material Girl, now a devotee of kabbalah, claims she has renounced the material world.
Despite all outward appearances, that is. Motherhood, apparently, was the key.
If someone can only get her to renounce making movies. Now, that would be a spiritual experience.
The most startling production designer of the 1960s, bar none, was Britain's Ken Adam, the man most responsible for the great look of the early James Bond movies, setting the tone (with a minuscule budget) with 1962's "Dr. No," then dazzling us with his imaginative work for "From Russia With Love (1963), "Goldfinger (1964) and such pictures as "Dr. Strangelove" (1963), "Funeral in Berlin" (1966), "Thunderball" (1965) and, later, "Sleuth" (1972).
Yes, fellow Brit John Box won all those Oscars, and deservedly, but no one topped Adam for his striking sets and stagings. He is profiled by Christopher Frayling in the prosaically titled "Ken Adam: The Art of Production Design" (Faber & Faber). The designer never stopped inventing, most notably with his grandly expressionistic sets and in meticulous period pieces such as Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" (1975) and "The Madness of King George" (1994), both of which earned him Academy Awards. Not to forget the campy "Addams Family Values" (1993).
Born in Berlin, Adam landed in England at age 12, later studying architecture and serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II. In 1947, Adam entered the film industry, toiling as an assistant art director and impressing colleagues with his sculptural ethic. He discussed his career over the course of numerous interviews with Frayling, a professor of cultural history at the Royal College of Art and the author of "Once Upon a Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone."
Revisit some Adam's work on video. Even his earliest films feel fresh.
Also due out from Frayling is "Mad, Bad and Dangerous? The Scientist and the Cinema" (Reaktion Books), a chronicle of misguided or misunderstood genius from Victor Frankenstein to Dr. Moreau and Doc Brown of "Back to the Future" and an examination of the cinematic portrayal of scientists. Drawing on such films as "Frankenstein," "Metropolis" and "The Wizard of Oz" (what, no "Forbin Project"?), Frayling melds social and film history together, "resurrecting the scientists of late night movies and drive in theaters and giving them new life as cultural talismans."
Bits and pieces
Actor David ("Good Night and Good Luck") Strathairn's first job after graduating from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., was as half of a Siamese-twin clown act with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. His classmate at Williams, though not in clown college, was future writer-director John Sayles, with whom Strathairn later made seven films. ... German director Werner Herzog's dictum on fragile veneers, that, "Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness," always has been reflected in his movies. ... Next up for Kirsten Dunst, who already has signed for "Spider-Man 3," is a new film with director Sofia Coppola, the biopic, "Marie-Antoinette," due out next year. quite a different sort of picture for Coppola, an Oscar winner for "Lost in Translation."
KIRSTEN DUNST ("Elizabethtown"), 23, on finding the zone: "Sometimes I get what I want out of acting, and sometimes not. It really just depends on the day, the person you're working with and the environment you're in. I do like that every single day is different from the last one. There's a little high I get during a scene when I know it just really felt right. But I can be totally wrong in thinking that, too. Most of the time, I just like to feel comfortable with the words."
Director SIDNEY LUMET, on serendipity: "For any director with a little ludicity, masterpieces are films that come to you by accident."
Screenwriter ANGUS ("Junebug") MacLACHLAN: "People have a hard time with ambiguity. The gray area is a place most people do not find comfortable anymore, if they even recognize it. But that is the poetic realm, where you can't quite say what you feel but you feel it nonetheless."