Her mighty heart – Angelina Jolie brings out the crowds for SBIFF award

Angelina Jolie, recipient of the SBIFF’s Performance of the Year Award, and Brad Pitt laugh on the red carpet of the Arlington on Saturday night.

February 3, 2008 7:26 AM

If the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has been slightly subdued this year despite the lineup of award winners and nominees appearing nearly every night, the appearance of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt out in front of the Arlington more than made up for it.
More than Cate Blanchett’s appearance last week, Saturday’s tribute to Ms. Jolie brought out fans in crowds that turned the 1300 block of State into something like Cannes.
And for the fans it was worth it. For over 10 minutes, the two stars stayed away from the red carpet and the paparazzi and worked the crowd, signing autographs and chatting with appreciative teens and adults.

Fans lined up early at the Arlington to see Angelina Jolie on Saturday night.

Giving back to fans is the point, said Ms. Jolie later in her interview with Variety’s Peter Hammond. “That’s why we make films,” she said. It’s “for the people that appreciate them.”
The idea of giving back has also led to her work with the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees, using the media that follow her and Mr. Pitt around to focus attention on crises in Sierra Leone and beyond.
The Festival honored Ms. Jolie with the Outstanding Performance of the Year Award for her portrayal as Mariane Pearl in Michael Winterbottom’s “A Mighty Heart.” The role has won her a Golden Globe nomination. Ms. Jolie has previously won Golden Globes for “George Wallace” (1997), “Gia” (1998) and “Girl, Interrupted” (1999), ” the latter of which also earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Brad Pitt watches on as Angelina Jolie talks to the press on the red carpet at the Arlington on Saturday.

The evening with the actress included clips from a career that started when she was in her teens.
Though known as the daughter of actor Jon Voight, a question about her parents and the acting bug led to tales about her actress mother Marcheline Bertrand.
“I was raised by her,” Ms. Jolie said of her mother, who passed away just over a year ago. Ms. Jolie credited her mother with helping her prepare for even the tiniest film. “She’d take me out to thrift stores to buy costumes . . . she’d write me letters addressed to my character.”
Mr. Hammond revealed that Ms. Jolie had nearly chosen another career in her early teens — funeral director. Ms. Jolie admitted that it was true.
“I went to a funeral and thought it was not enough of a celebration of a life of a person.” Ms. Jolie earned her mail order degree at 14 years old.
Fortunately, acting was something that followed on from modeling. Her first films were low-budget and sometimes forgettable. (” ‘Cyborg 1’ was Jean-Claude Van Damme,” she said, “and I was ‘Cyborg 2’ at 17.”) Yet on the red carpet, when asked about people who helped her get her start, she singled out another less-known film, 1995’s “Without Evidence,” as a film that really helped her career get a boost.
In an interview, Ms. Jolie was appreciative and slightly shy. “I feel like I’m in therapy,” she joked when asked about her early life.
As an actress, she admitted it was hard to feel confident at first.
“I didn’t think I had very much to give,” she said. “I thought maybe I had one story to tell. . . . I didn’t know myself.”
Instead, Ms. Jolie has gone on to a series of sexy and smart roles, including “Beyond Borders,” “The Good Shepherd” and her upcoming lead role in Clint Eastwood’s “The Changeling.”
Mr. Eastwood was on hand to present the award to Ms. Jolie and spoke briefly on the red carpet about the film, based on a true story set in 1920s Los Angeles.
“The film is a lot different from anything that I’ve done, and it’s a lot different from anything that she’s done.”
As demonstrated Saturday, Ms. Jolie’s fans are not going anywhere and will gladly wait and see.

©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press

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