SAVANNAH, Ga., Nov. 5, 2010 — The 13th annual Savannah Film Festival, hosted by SCAD, presented Sir Ian McKellen with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday, November 4.
“It’s an honor to be at the Savannah Film Festival,” said McKellen upon receipt of his award. He then reminisced about his first visit to Georgia. “The governor very generously announced that he’d like to make the day of my visit Ian McKellen day in Georgia — until one of his aides pointed out that it was the third Monday in January and that date was already reserved for Martin Luther King. So he puzzled about, and then he said, ‘I know what we’ll do, I’m going to make McKellen a lieutenant colonel in my gubernatorial forces.’ So you’re now looking at the only openly gay man who is legally allowed to serve in the American military.”
The presentation was preceded with a screening of “Gods and Monsters” for which Sir Ian received his first Oscar nomination.
Ian McKellen has been honored with more than 40 international awards for his performances on screen and stage.
He was born in 1939 and raised in the north of England. He started acting professionally in 1961. His youthful performances as Shakespeare’s “Richard II” and Marlowe’s “Edward II” stormed the 1969 Edinburgh Festival, played two seasons in London, toured Europe and were televised. In pursuit of the ideal theatre ensemble, he was a founder-member of the touring Actors’ Company. As leading man for the Royal Shakespeare Company, he has played Macbeth (with Judi Dench), Iago and King Lear, now all DVD classics. He has starred in a score of modern plays in London, many for the National Theatre under its first director Laurence Olivier and his successors. Most recently at the NT, he was Stockmann in “Enemy of the People” and Captain Hook in “Peter Pan.” He recently played Estragon in “Waiting for Godot” in London and on tour.
He has worked extensively in television, including Stephen Frears’ “Walter,” “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” “Rasputin,” “Cold Comfort Farm,” and in 2005 fulfilled his ambition to act in “Coronation Street,” the longest-running television soap.
McKellen has made more than 40 movies. In 1996, he co-produced, co-scripted and starred in his film adaptation of “Richard III.” A young generation of cinemagoers discovered him as Magneto in the “X-Men” films and as Gandalf the wizard, his Oscar-nominated performance in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Other films include “Apt Pupil,” “The Da Vinci Code” and “The Golden Compass.”
He has been an eloquent advocate for gay rights since he came out in 1988 and co-founded Stonewall UK. The following year, he was knighted for his contribution to the performing arts. Last year he was made Companion of Honour “for services to drama and equality.”
McKellen joins a lineup of special guests including Liam Neeson, Isabella Rossellini and Bobby Zarem. Neeson received an Achievement in Cinema Award on November 2. PR legend Zarem received a Lifetime Achievement Award on November 3. Rossellini will receive an Achievement in Cinema Award on November 5.
The 13th annual Savannah Film Festival is presenting special screenings of the films Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours,” Doug Liman’s “Fair Game,” Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” Ed Burns’ “Nice Guy Johnny,” Sam Rockwell’s “Conviction,” Nigel Cole’s “Made in Dagenham” and Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine,” among others.
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