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Forest Whitaker to Receive the Kirk Douglas Award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival

Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s eighth annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film will be presented to Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker. Guests will gather to celebrate his achievements at a black-tie Gala dinner at Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara on Sunday, December 15, 2013. In the tradition of the award, top-name presenters will be revealed closer to the event.

“Forest Whitaker is an exceptional man and actor. His commitment to human causes, his passion for what is right, and his dedication to his craft are inspirational and at my age, inspiration is rare,” commented Kirk Douglas. Whitaker is in exceptional company, joining previous recipients Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Ed Harris, John Travolta and Kirk Douglas himself.

Whitaker brings an authentic realism to each of his performances. Often referred to as a ‘gentle giant,’ Whitaker has the ability to get under our skin, guiding the audience through every character he embodies, making him one of the most versatile performers of all time. This promises to be an exciting year for Whitaker. He most recently portrayed Cecil Gaines, a butler at the White House serving eight presidents during his tenure in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, opposite Oprah Winfrey; he will grace the screen in Out of the Furnace, opposite Christian Bale; and he will also be seen in his first musical, Black Nativity, opposite Jennifer Hudson and Angela Bassett. In addition, Forest is the founder of LA-based Significant Productions, where he served as a producer on Fruitvale Station, which won the 2013 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Above all else, Whitaker is a humanitarian. He is the founder of PeaceEarth Foundation, co-founder and chair of the International Institute for Peace and is the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation.

The Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film serves as a fundraiser for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which is set to run January 30 through February 9, 2014. SBIFF is dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema.

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