A most generous man: Fellow stars honor Forest Whitaker at SBIFF’s fundraising gala

Although it had been postponed several weeks, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival held its annual fundraiser Sunday night at the Bacara Resort & Spa, presenting the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film to actor, director and producer Forest Whitaker. The sit-down dinner and black-tie affair was planned for Dec. 15, but scheduling conflicts pushed the event to the first week of 2014, less than a month away from the Festival itself, which begins Jan. 30.

This event, in its eighth year, is a more subdued affair than the similar celebrity awards evenings that draw thousands to the Festival. In place of a sit-down interview in front of theater audiences, the evening gives the podium over to fellow actors and directors to speak about the honoree, with some words from the star himself. And the Bacara, with tables named after select Whitaker films – from “Good Morning, Vietnam” to “Ghost Dog,” was the place to do it, far away from downtown.

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Whitaker to receive Douglas Award

Forest Whitaker

Film actor Forest Whitaker, who stars in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” is to receive this year’s Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film, according to an announcement from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The award will be given at a black-tie gala dinner Dec. 15 at the Bacara.

The 52-year-old actor is best known for his roles in “Platoon,” “Bird,” “The Crying Game,” and “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai.”

His starring role in “The Last King of Scotland,” in which he played Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, earned him his first Oscar for Best Actor. He also was honored for the role at SBIFF in 2007.

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