Freeze frame: Savannah Film Festival 

Ian McKellen, Liam Neeson and 'Black Swan' headed our way

And the Lifetime Achievement Award goes to ... Gandalf the White!

Sir Ian McKellen, so memorable as the wily wizard Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, tops the list of honorees at the 2010 Savannah Film Festival, set for Oct. 30–Nov. 6. The award, as always will be handed over during a ceremony at the Trustees Theater.

McKellen, of course, is a distinguished British stage actor with a long and impressive resume. His other best–known films include Gods and Monsters (he played James Whale, the eccentric director of Frankenstein), the X–Men series (he’s the mad mutant Magneto), The DaVinci Code (the kooky and crooked Sir Leigh Teabing) and Stephen King’s Apt Pupil (he was the once-and-always Nazi hiding out in a suburban American neighborhood).

Also scheduled to make appearances at the festival: Liam Neeson, a real–life matinee idol and one of Ireland’s best–known dramatic exports.

Then there’s Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet), Virginia Madsen (Sideways), Zack Gilford (Friday Night Lights), playwright/director Neil LaBute, director Tony Goldwyn and actor, writer and director Edward Burns, who’ll screen his latest film, Nice Guy Johnny.

McKellen will receive his Lifetime Achievement Award Nov. 4; Neeson his Achievement in Cinema trophy Nov. 2, and Rossellini gets her own Achievement in Cinema award Nov. 5.

Madsen is coming to debut the documentary I Know a Woman Like That, directed by her mother Elaine Madsen. Guilford is bringing The River Why (his most recent starring vehicle) and Goldwyn will screen his latest, Conviction.

Check out this crop of gala screenings, films that haven’t yet opened to the public (but will soon):

The Black Swan. Natalie Portman, Winona Ryder and Mila Kunis in director Darren Aronofsky’s supernatural thriller set in the arch–competitive world of professional ballet.

127 Hours. Oscar–winning Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle returns with a drama starring James Franco. The film is based on the true story of the Utah mountain climber who amputated his own arm to free himself after being trapped by a boulder.

Fair Game. Naomi Watts as CIA operative Valerie Plame, with Sean Penn as her husband, in the latest political thriller from Bourne Identity director Doug Liman.

Blue Valentine. Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling star in writer/director Derek Cianfrance’s bittersweet, time–shifting drama about a couple trying desperately to save their marriage.

Another Year. Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville and Imelda Staunton head the cast of British writer/director Mike Leigh’s latest film, which is pitted against Boyle’s 127 Hours at the London Film Festival later this month. Another Year is a drama about a middle–aged couple watching as one unhappy event follows another.

Made in Dagenham. Another British film, directed by Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls), it’s the semi–comic true story of a group of female factory workers in the 1960s. Sally Hawkins, Jamie Winstone and Bob Hoskins star.

Most, if not all, of these films have made the rounds of the international film festivals over the last few month – from Cannes to Sundance to Toronto to Telluride.

More screening information is forthcoming.

The Savannah Film Festival also includes dozens of “competition” films, including documentaries, features, shorts and animated films. There’s a student film category, too.

See it all at scad.edu/filmfest.


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Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung was Connect's Arts & Entertainment Editor from May 2009 to August 2014.

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