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Quendrith Johnson is filmfestivals.com Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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Sacha Baron Cohen gets his due as SBIFF's Outstanding Performer set for April

by Quendrith Johnosn, Los Angeles Correspondent

BORAT and its subsesquent "Movefilm" made quite a splash with the Rudy Giuliani moment. Ironically Mr. Giuliani's "hair dye" press conference was even more impactful on the controversial President's attorney. That being said, The Santa Barbara International Film Festival will honor Cohen with an Outstanding Performer Award this April. It's an acknowledgement of his stunning career, which began as parody and literally ended up as part of the political dialogue in a deeply divided US.

Here's the official announcement of the award, including details for the upcoming SBIFF event.

SANTA BARBARA, CA: Sacha Baron Cohen will receive the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award at the 36th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Baron Cohen will be honored on Wednesday, April 7 for his critically acclaimed work in both Aaron Sorkin’s THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 from Netflix and BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM from Amazon Studios.  

“In 2020, Mr. Cohen twice was able to capture our interest, our imagination as well as the zeitgeist.  His work in both films is timely, urgent and nuanced,” noted SBIFF’s Executive Director Roger Durling. 

It’s an honor to be recognized and to stand in the company of such incredible past recipients,” said Baron Cohen. “I’m very grateful to Roger, SBIFF and everyone who believes that cinema, whether drama or satire, can shine a light on injustice and bigotry and even provide a laugh or two along the way.”

Sacha Baron Cohen by Russell James2021

[Photo credit: Russell James for SBIFF]

An Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and Golden Globe-winning actor, Sacha Baron Cohen is unmatched in his skills as a multi-hyphenate actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. He is best known for his portrayal of iconic characters Ali G, Borat Sagdiyev, Brüno Gehard, Admiral General Aladeen, and Erran Morrad. Baron Cohen has also starred in Adam McKay's TALLEDEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBYMartin Scorsese's HUGO, Tom Hooper's LES MISÉRABLES, and Tim Burton’s SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET.

Most recently, Baron Cohen starred in two politically driven and emotionally resonate films. Among a brilliant ensemble of actors in Aaron Sorkin's THE TRIAL OF CHICAGO 7, Baron Cohen shines as real-life yippie activist Abbie Hoffman. Critics hailed his performance noting he is "savvy and soulfully aware of his urgency" and that he "brought deep resonance" with his performance as Hoffman. Similarly, Baron Cohen returned as his iconic character, “Borat,” in the global hit satireBORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime For Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which he produced and co-wrote, and according to The New York Times' AO Scott was "the best film of the year." Additional criticsdeclared Baron Cohen is “a brave comic genius, a new-age Peter Sellers" and "a master.”

The Outstanding Performers of the Year Award recognizes select individuals who have distinguished themselves with exceptional performances in film this past year. Past recipients of the award include Adam Driver, Rami Malek, Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, Steve Carell, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Viola Davis, James Franco, Colin Firth, Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Heath Ledger, Kate Winslet and Charlize Theron.

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place March 31st through April 10th, 2021. More information as well as Festival passes and tickets, will be available in the coming weeks at www.sbiff.org.

This is the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

 The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 35 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 100,000+ attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.

In 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

Visit www.sbiff.org.

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