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Martin Scorsese to Receive Santa Barbara Film Festival Prize

The Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film will be presented to Scorsese on November 14.

Martin Scorsese poses on the red carpet

Martin Scorsese


The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has announced that Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese will be honored with the 14th-annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film. The award will be presented at a gala at The Ritz Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, on Thursday, November 14.

“Martin Scorsese is a brilliant filmmaker. He has made countless unforgettable films and is a true cinematic treasure. I am honored and grateful that he will receive the 14th annual Kirk Douglas Award,” said Kirk Douglas in a statement from the Santa Barbara Film Festival.

The award is well-timed to the launch of Scorsese’s hotly anticipated epic “The Irishman” in theaters and on Netflix this fall. The crime opus — Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci, and Bobby Cannavale, among others — will first make its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on September 27, followed by a UK premiere at the London Film Festival on October 13. The $140 million-plus film is Netflix’s awards-season juggernaut this year, and will be Scorsese’s first film to factor heavily in the Oscar conversation since 2013’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.” His last feature film, 2016’s “Silence,” received one Academy Award nomination.

In “The Irishman,” Pesci stars as Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino, with Pacino co-starring as Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa, and De Niro as their right-hand man, the titular Irishman, Frank Sheeran. The film will utilize innovative de-aging technology to tell its time-spanning story. De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci are playing their characters across decades, with Scorsese using VFX to “de-age” the actors to appear up to 30 years younger. The script, written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian, is based on Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book “I Heard You Paint Houses.”

Since 2006, the annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film has been awarded to a lifelong contributor to cinema through their work in front of the camera, behind, or both. Scorsese will be the fourth director to receive this honor, joining the ranks of past honorees Hugh Jackman, Dame Judi Dench, Warren Beatty, Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, Forest Whitaker, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Ed Harris, and John Travolta.

The 35th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place January 15–25, 2020.

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