Posted by Larry Gleeson
Actor Willem Dafoe graced the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) last night at the historic Arlington Theater. Dafoe was in town to receive the SBIFF Cinema Vanguard Award. The Cinema Vanguard Award was created to recognize actors who have forged their own paths – taking artistic risks and making a significant and unique contribution to film.
First, however, SBIFF Board President Lynda Weinman addressed the audience reiterating Executive Director Roger Durling’s Opening Night remarks. Weinman expressed her pleasure of serving as Board President heaping accolades on the SBIFF Staff, Executive Director Durling and the festival’s 700 volunteers then thanked the evening’s sponsor, Bella Vista Designs and the evening’s hotel sponsor, Hotel Santa Barbara.
But the evening belonged to Dafoe. The Hollywood Reporter’s Pete Hammond was introduced as the moderator for the 15th time in a row. Hammond expressed his appreciation for the Santa Barbaran spirit and his gratitude to be at the Arlington to honor Dafoe,
Hammond guided the conversation from start to finish after a well-orchestrated montage of Dafoe’s various roles set to music kickstarted the conversation. Clips from Platoon and The Last Temptation of Christ revealed an early actor’s empathic ability – something that defines Dafoe in many ways. Dafoe believes his acting roles have allowed him to feel how others might feel. And, that’s a lot of feeling. Dafoe has over 100 films to his credit and has been nominated three times for an Oscar. Currently, Dafoe is nominated for his critically-acclaimed portrayal of Bobby Hicks, the manager at the Magic Castle Motel, in Sean Baker’s The Florida Project.
Dafoe received a rousing, standing ovation as he received his Cinema Vanguard Award.