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James Cameron to receive Santa Barbara Award for Excellence in Nature Filmmaking

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced today the lineup of honorees for the 21st annual Fest, February 2-12, 2006. Actors Philip Seymour Hoffman, Naomi Watts, and Heath Ledger will be honored at this year’s Fest. Also set to be recognized for his achievements in nature filmmaking is James Cameron. As previously announced, George Clooney will be the recipient of the Modern Master Award.

Philip Seymour Hoffman will receive “The Riviera Award,” an award the Santa Barbara International Film Festival established to recognize an actor who has influenced American Cinema. With work in films ranging from “Scent of a Woman” to “Boogie Nights” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” Hoffman has consistently shown both solid talent and versatility. A compelling performance by Hoffman in “Capote” has caused audiences and critics to sit up and take notice this year, though he has contributed to the cinematic landscape of America throughout his career. “The Riviera Award” will be presented in Santa Barbara, known as “The American Riviera,” on Saturday, February 11.

Heath Ledger will be honored with the “Breakthrough Performance of the Year” award for his heartwrenching portrayal as Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee’s tragic love story “Brokeback Mountain.” Ledger’s outstanding performance has been applauded by critics since the film began debuting at film festivals across the globe. Ledger, who has been seen in films such as “The Patriot,” “Ned Kelly,” “Lords of Dogtown,” “Monster’s Ball,” “Brothers Grimm” and most recently “Casanova,” will receive the award during a tribute on Wednesday, February, 8.

Naomi Watts will receive the Montecito Award on Saturday, February 4. The Montecito Award was created in recognition of a performer who has given a series of classic and standout performances in his/her career. Since her breakthrough performance in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” Naomi Watts has consistently impressed theater-goers with such memorable films as “The Ring,” “21 Grams,” for which she received an Academy Award nomination, “We Don’t Live Here Anymore,” “The Assassination of Richard Nixon,” “I Heart Huckabees” and her most recent and touching portrayal of the legendary ‘Ann Darrow’ in Peter Jackson’s “King Kong”.

Festival Director Roger Durling is excited about each of the honorees. “Naomi Watts first caught my attention in “Mulholland Drive” and she’s held it with each performance since. She has such understated emotion and honesty in her acting and we’re excited to welcome her, minus the big ape, to the 2006 Fest. I have also enjoyed Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performances for years, and this one is no exception,” Durling continues. “His commitment to portraying the obsessive nature of Truman Capote as he wrote his most famous work is powerful and unsettling. I was in awe, and as a long-time admirer of his work, I’m thrilled that we can honor him this year!” Additionally, Durling said, “Heath blew me away in ‘Brokeback Mountain.’ His portrayal of a man struggling with a secret life without being discovered or persecuted by society was outstanding. I’m honored that the SBIFF can present him with the award for ‘Breakthrough Performance of the Year.’

“We are thrilled to be able to celebrate such vibrant and extremely accomplished performers that are each at a high point in their careers.”

Filmmaker James Cameron, who has made a number of films using underwater filmmaking technology, will be honored with “A Tribute to James Cameron” at the 21st Santa Barbara International Film Festival for his contributions to nature filmmaking.

Cameron, who has directed box-office hits such as “Aliens,” “The Abyss,” the “Terminator” movies, “True Lies” and “Titanic” will be presented with the Attenborough Award for Excellence in Nature Filmmaking. As a result of his work while researching and filming Titanic, Cameron started the pursuit of a lifelong dream of exploring the ocean floor.

The Discovery Channel began airing Cameron’s most recent film adventure, “Mysteries of the Titanic,” in June. Cameron’s other films in the same vein include “Titanic Explorer” and “Aliens of the Deep,” a large-format 3-dimensional film about the extreme environment of the ocean’s hydrothermal vents. Cameron has said that in making the worldwide blockbuster “Titanic,” his real motivation was to explore the remains of the real ship. After the success of the film, the filmmaker continued his quest to conquer the challenges of deep-ocean photography and exploration.

The Attenborough Award for Excellence in Nature Filmmaking will be presented on February 6, 2006 by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. The Tribute to James Cameron kicks off the “Reel Nature: A Nature World Film Series,” which runs during the SBIFF in conjunction with the Museum.

All tributes will be produced by Paul Fagen of P. Fagen Productions. Pre-sale tickets for events are on sale NOW at the official SBIFF Box Office, toll free 888.456.2376 or local 805.963.0761 or visit Festival Passes and packages are also currently on sale for 10% off if purchased before December 21st. Call the SBIFF Box Office at 888.456.2376 for more information.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, set to run February 2 through February 12, 2006, is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching local culture and raising consciousness of film as an art form. It presents quality American independent, Spanish and Latin American, European World and Documentary cinema within the beautiful setting of downtown Santa Barbara, a premier tourist destination. SBIFF is also committed to education through its Student Filmmaking Competitions, Field Trip to the Movies, Kids' Fest, and educational seminars. With a projected audience of over 40,000 viewing more than 150 films over its eleven-day run, SBIFF attracts an affluent local and national consumer base, while maintaining strong ties with the entertainment industry in nearby Los Angeles.


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