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October 23, 2012

Stars Over Savnnah: SCAD’s Celeb-Studded Film Fest Oct. 27-Nov. 3

If Atlanta is Hollywood South, then Savannah Film Fest is Its Epi-Center for Screenings, Celeb Sighting, Schmoozing & Film Love

By Nancy Staab

Diane Lane, Matt Dillon, Gabourey Sidibe, John Goodman, Michelle Monaghan, Stan Lee, Christy Turlington Burns, Nigel Barker and more will screen films, lecture and pick up awards at this year’s cinema smack-down. Here’s a cheat sheet of highlights from this year’s fest.

Scenes from this year's Savannah Film Festival Scenes from this year's Savannah Film Festival

Academy Award-nominated actors Diane Lane (“Unfaithful,” “Secretariat,” “The Perfect Storm”) and Matt Dillon (“Crash,” “Beautiful Girls,” “Drugstore Cowboy”)— will be honored with Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Awards at the 15th annual Savannah Film Festival Oct. 27-Nov. 3. It’s a reunion of sorts, since the two co-starred as young teen actors in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Rumble Fish.” The festival, presented by Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), will also honor actress Michelle Monaghan (“Gone Baby Gone”) with a “Spotlight Award” for her performance in the not yet released film “Tomorrow You’re Gone.” The film co-stars Willem Dafoe and Stephe Dorff and is a tale of retribution, a road trip, and unlikely redemption. Lastly, Academy Award-winning writer/director Geoffrey Fletcher (“Precious”) will receive the “SCAD Cinevation Award” for his “imagination, inspiration and innovation in cinema.” There will also be a screening of his directorial debut “Violet & Daisy” with one of its stars James Gandolfini (“Sopranos”) in attendance.

Other honorees this year include Golden Globe-winning actor John Goodman (“The Artist,” “The Big Lebowski”); former president of Marvel Comics and co-creator of Spider-Man, X-Men, The Hulk, Iron Man and more, Stan Lee; Pulitzer Prize-winning screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole”) and writer/actor John Gatins (“Real Steel”).

The fest will open with David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro. Russell directed such compelling films as “Three Kings” and “The Fighter”  and his latest effort, “Silver Linings Playbook,” recently garnered top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Savannah Film Festival will close with DreamWorks Animation’s fantasy-adventure flick “Rise of the Guardian” with voice-overs by Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin and Isla Fisher and   3-D viewing courtesy of 3-D cinema provider RealD.

On the Road On the Road

Other film screening highlights: Palme d’Or Winner “Amour;” Walter Salles’ Jack Kerouac-inspired “On the Road;” “Rust and Bone” about a paraplegic whale trainer starring Marion Cotillard and HBO’s “The Girl” about the strained relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and his starlet Tippi Hedren (played by Sienna Miller). There are also several hot docs on the ticket.  Christy Turlington Burns will present her directorial debut, “No Woman No Cry,” documenting at-risk pregnant women in four parts of the world, including a remote Maasai tribe in Tanzania, a slum of Bangladesh, a post-abortion care ward in Guatemala, and a prenatal clinic in the United States. Another buzzy documentary on the lineup is fashion photographer/filmmaker Nigel Barker’s “Dreams Are Not Forgotten,” interweaving the stories of several Hatians living in ruins and tents after the devestating 2010 earthquake, including an orphaned thirteen-year-old schoolgirl as one of the protaganists. Vogue’s André Leon Talley described it as a “compelling, moving journey” and the documentary picked up the “Film Heals” Award at the Manhattan Film Festival.

The Savannah Film Festival has a storied history of distinguished honorees including Oliver Stone, Isabella Rossellini, James Franco, Sydney Pollack, Liam Neeson, Jane Fonda, Milos Forman, Michael Douglas, Vanessa Redgrave, Aaron Eckhart, Sir Ian McKellan. Many of the fest’s screening have gone on to earn Academy Award nominations and over the years the fest has had the honor of premiering films by iconic directors such as Pedro Aldomovar, Robert Redford and Wood Allen. Special screenings presented at the fest before national release have included “Black Swan,” “Precious,” “Sideways,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Wrestler,” and last year’s Academy Winner for best film “The Artist.” In other words, head two hour’s down the road to Savannah for the fall film fest and you will have the cognoscenti marveling at your film prescience.

Tickets and passes for Savannah Film Festival, Oct. 27-Nov. 3, can be purchased online at or 912.525.5050. For the full film schedule visit

Dreams Are Not Forgotten Dreams Are Not Forgotten