Fresh off solo disaster movie, Robert Redford is coming to the Film Fest

Robert Redford, shown here in "All Is Lost," will receive the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's American Riviera Award in February. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Robert Redford, shown here in “All Is Lost,” will receive the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s American Riviera Award in February.

One more piece of the puzzle has been placed in Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s award schedule. After the announcements of Oprah Winfrey, Cate Blanchett, Emma Thompson and the seven recipients of the Virtuosos Award, the Festival revealed that actor Robert Redford will receive this year’s American Riviera Award.

The 77-year-old actor scored among critics this year with his bravura, one-man survivalist movie “All Is Lost,” about a man trying to save his boat and himself at sea when the hull is ripped open. The sometimes wordless, visceral performance has earned him a Golden Globe nomination, and a Best Actor Oscar nomination may be in the cards, as the SBIFF often serves as a bellwether for award season.

Mr. Redford will receive the award on Feb. 7.

This is notable as – despite his years of fame and popularity – the actor has never won a Best Actor (or even Supporting Actor) Oscar. The closest he got was at the height of his fame, for “The Sting” in 1974. He has, however, won an Oscar for his directing work (“Ordinary People” in 1980), and was nominated for “Quiz Show” in 1995.

But film festival-goers will also know Mr. Redford as the man who changed independent filmmaking, when he began the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in 1981.

Named after his character in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” the festival became known as the launching pad for many directors, and now rivals Cannes and Toronto in importance. It has also spawned its own cable channel and director/screenwriter-cultivating Institute.

Sundance is also one of the festivals to influence SBIFF, and the two butt up against each other in the busy January schedules.

SBIFF’s American Riviera Award recognizes “an artist who has had a strong influence on American Cinema.” Last year it went to Quentin Tarantino.

“His 50-year career – filled with significant achievements both on and off camera – is reason enough for celebration, but his role in ‘All Is Lost’ – one of the best performances of the year – proves that he’s an artist that continues to evolve and inspire us,” festival Executive Director Roger Durling said in a press release.”

In college, Mr. Redford vacillated between arts and sports but has admitted he wasn’t a good student. He got his act together in New York, and soon went from stage and television to film.

His early movies included “Barefoot in the Park,” and “Inside Daisy Clover.” His breakthrough came when he teamed up with Paul Newman on “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and he became one of Hollywood’s great leading men, handsome and usually playing the good guy.

The 1970s was his decade, with a string of hits, including “Jeremiah Johnson” (one of the actor’s favorite films), “The Candidate,” “The Sting,” “The Way We Were,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Three Days of the Condor” and “All the President’s Men.”

Despite turning to directing and the festival business, Mr. Redford was never long from the screen, with notable films including “Out of Africa,” “Indecent Proposal,” “The Horse Whisperer” and “Spy Game.”

His other directorial efforts include “The Milagro Beanfield War,” “A River Runs Through It” and “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”

The final award to be announced is the Cinema Vanguard Award, which went last year to Amy Adams. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival begins Jan. 30.

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