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Sarasota Fest will salute Edward Norton & Brian Koppelman

The Sarasota Film Festival, which began its 9th edition last night, will salute Academy Award nominated actor Edward Norton and writer/producer Brian Koppelman (who recently teamed as actor and producer of the critically acclaimed THE ILLUSIONIST) at The Reel Experience at The Lake Club Gala this evening. Mr. Norton will be honored with the Festival’s Humanitarian Award, with Koppelman receiving an Excellence in Screenwriting honor for his work (which includes the upcoming OCEAN'S THIRTEEN, as well as his previous work on such films as RUNAWAY JURY and ROUNDERS, which starred fellow honoree Edward Norton). On Sunday, the pair will participate in the festival program, In Conversation With…At The Historic Asolo Theatre where they will discuss their respective careers.

Edward Norton is regarded as one of the most talented and dynamic actors of his generation. Not yet 40 years old, he has already built an impressive career as a no-holds-barred actor who is committed to realism and elevating the art of acting. After attending Yale Drama School and working in New York's non-profit theater world, his big break came with his casting in the role of a young man suspected of murdering a priest (who may not be as innocent as he first appears) in the courtroom thriller PRIMAL FEAR, opposite Richard Gere. The role was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio, who turned it down. Norton auditioned and won he role over 2000 other hopefuls. He was nominated that year for the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor (and won a Golden Globe Award) for his intense and dynamic of the most auspicious film debuts of the past decade.

In 1998, he gained 30 pounds of muscle and transformed his look into that of a monstrous skinhead for his role as a violent white supremacist in AMERICAN HISTORY X. That acclaimed performance earned him his second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor. Subsequent film hits include FIGHT CLUB, Spike Lee's THE 25TH HOUR, THE ITALIAN JOB and last year's THE ILLUSIONIST and THE PAINTED VEIL. Norton made his directorial debut in 2000 with the romantic comedy KEEPING THE FAITH and is next set to star opposite Colin Farrell in the New Line production PRIDE AND GLORY.

Aside from the Festival salutes, Norton and Koppelman will also be attending several private dinners and receptions while in town on behalf of Enterprise Community Partners, a national community development organization specifically to discuss that organization’s Hurricane Katrina relief fund and programs. Enterprise Community Partners has been a leading private relief organization to help the hundreds of thousands of people who were displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (most of whom were very low income families to begin with). The organization has a fundraising goal of $200 million to help create more than 10,000 healthy, sustainable homes in the Gulf Coast by 2008.

Sandy Mandelberger, Sarasota Film Festival Online Dailies Editor

more on the Sarasota Fest Blog

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