Oscar winner Jeff Bridges received the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival’s highest honor Saturday at the Fremont Theatre in San Luis Obispo.
Bridges, wearing a grey suit, white shirt and blue tie, bounded on stage with a smile to accept the King Vidor Career Achievement Award from fellow actor James Cromwell.
"Man, this is so cool," Bridges said. "It's wonderful to be acknowledged for my work like this."
The award, named after the director of “War and Peace,” recognizes excellence in filmmaking.
In his introduction, Cromwell told the audience he met the actor at an early age and recalled hanging out at the beach with a five-year-old Bridges.
"He was the Dude even then," Cromwell said, referring to Bridges’ classic portrayal of pot-smoking slacker Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski in the cult comedy, “The Big Lebowski.”
"Jeff continues to find ways to express his talents through extraordinary characters," Cromwell said, praising "his honesty, his transparency, his presence."
Beyond acting, Cromwell said, Bridges' leads "a full life committed on all levels and that is no mean feat in Tinseltown."
Bridges and Cromwell then sat down on stage for a discussion of the Oscar winner's career that included anecdotes about his approach to acting, his influences and some of his favorite films, including "The Big Lebowski" and "Crazy Heart," the film that earned Bridges an Academy Award for his portrayal of a broken-down country singer.
Speaking about the latter film, Bridges said, "I've always dreamed about doing a movie about something I love so much, music."
With every film, he said, "I want to do something different. I want to stretch myself. That's what acting's all about. How do you make it fresh? How do you make it (feel) like it's happening for the first time?"
Bridges’ warm interaction with the audience while fielding questions extended to inviting a fan onstage for a photo. The evening also included a tribute film showcasing Bridges’ lengthy acting career then wrapped up with a screening of “The Big Lebowski.”
Before Bridges and Cromwell took the stage, the evening kicked off with the George Sidney Independent Film Awards.
Coming-of-age comedies “A Birder’s Guide to Everything” and “Tu Seras Un Homme (“You’ll Be a Man”) tied for the festival’s prize for best narrative film, while “Icebound” won best documentary and “Moritz and the Woodwose” took best short film.
Sharing the prize for best student film were “Into the Silent Sea” and “Silk.”
Audience awards went to “Life, Liberty and Resilience” for best short film, “Life Inside Out” for best narrative feature and “Perfect Strangers” for best documentary feature.
A special jury prize went to the animated short “Wind.”
Receiving the coveted Neil Travis Best in the Fest Award — named after the Academy Award-winning editor of "Dances with Wolves" — was the documentary "Botso."