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Josh Brolin receives SLO film festival’s highest honor: ‘This is what matters most to me’

Oscar-nominated actor Josh Brolin, who grew up in the Templeton-Adelaida area, received the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival’s highest honor Saturday at a star-studded awards ceremony at the Fremont Theatre.

“Thank you very much for this,” said Brolin, the star of “No Country for Old Men,” “W.” and “Hail, Caesar!” as he received the King Vidor Award for Excellence in Filmmaking. “I love community, and I love the community here.”

Past King Vidor honoree Jeff Bridges presented the award, named after the Academy Award-winning director of “War and Piece,” to his “True Grit” co-star. Other previous recipients include Ann-Margret, Morgan Freeman and Peter Bogdanovich.

“Whoo! (I’m) here to give my buddy Josh a prize,” said Bridges, who won an Oscar for his turn as a down-on-his-luck country singer in “Crazy Heart,” before introducing a video reel featuring clips of some of Brolin’s most memorable roles ranging from “The Goonies,” “Sicario,” “Thrashin’ ” and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”

“Wow, you’ve made some good movies, man!” Bridges said to Brolin. “What wonderful acting!”

“Look at the scope of characters he can play,” Bridges told the audience. “This guy can do anything.”

In the audience for the ceremony was Brolin’s dad, James Brolin, his “Thrashin’ ” costar Robert Rusler and film critic Leonard Maltin.

“He’s got a lot of joy to his approach to work, and that’s balanced with a certain seriousness,” said Bridges, who appears with Brolin in the upcoming movie “Granite Mountain.”

“I feel really connected with this guy,” Bridges continued. “We’ve done two movies, but there’s a real friendship and camaraderie with him.”

Brolin wore a black suit jacket, white button-up shirt, dark jeans and brown boots.

“I’m so, so, so incredibly thankful to be given this by Jeff Bridges,” said Brolin, holding his award. “I’m so thankful, man. ... I love you very much.”

Afterward, Brolin sat down with Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz for an in-depth conversation about his career before fielding questions from the audience. The evening wrapped with an after-party at King David’s Masonic Lodge in San Luis Obispo.

“It means the world for me to be here,” said Brolin, who was born in Santa Monica and grew up in North County.

He attended Templeton Elementary School and Templeton Middle School and still owns a ranch in the area.

“This is my home,” he said. “These are my roots. ... This is what matters most to me.”

After his chat with Mankiewicz, Brolin nearly left his award behind on the stage. When he returned, he snapped a photo of the gold award leaning against a blue director’s chair with his phone.

“Instagram,” he said by way of explanation.

Saturday’s festivities kicked off with the festival’s George Sidney Independent Filmmaker Awards.

“My Mother’s Wound” won best narrative feature film, while “Breaking Point: War for Democracy in Ukraine” and “Rebels on Pointe” tied for best feature-length documentary. “Speechless,” “Refuge” and “Vicious” won best narrative short, best documentary short and best student film, respectively. “The Chop” and “Game” received jury prizes for best narrative short.

The film festival continues through Sunday evening, concluding with a closing-night awards ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Movie critic Maltin will help festival sponsors hand out awards to Central Coast and youth filmmakers, as well as the coveted Audience Awards, then chat with Orchestra Novo director Michael Nowak before a screening of “Score: A Film Music Documentary.”

For more information, and a full schedule of events, call 805-546-3456 or visit www.slofilmfest.org.

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