San Luis Obispo International Film Festival to honor ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ actor

Acclaimed character actor Alan Arkin will be honored at this year’s San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

Best known for his roles in such films as “Catch 22,” “Edward Scissorhands” and “Glengarry Glen Ross,” Arkin won an Academy Award for his turn as an irascible grandfather in “Little Miss Sunshine.”

“We’re really excited,” festival director Wendy Eidson said. “He’s done an amazing amount of work, (and) he’s still working constantly.”

Arkin, 75, is scheduled to appear March 20 in San Luis Obispo. He will receive the King Vidor Career Achievement Award, which honors excellence in filmmaking, Eidson said.

Past recipients include Malcolm McDowell, Peter Fonda and Morgan Freeman.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Los Angeles, Arkin started his show-business career in the 1950s with the folk group The Tarriers. Their version of “The Banana Boat Song” reached No. 4 on the Billboard chart before being eclipsed by Harry Belafonte’s better-known cover.

After stints with children’s folk group The Baby Sitters and comedy troupe The Second City, Arkin made his film debut in 1966’s “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming” — for which he earned his first Academy Award nomination.

Two years later, the actor received a second Oscar nod, for “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”

Over the years, Arkin has built a reputation as a skilled, disciplined character actor, garnering critical raves in “Wait Until Dark,” “Catch 22,” “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” and “The In-Laws.”

Arkin’s most recent movies include “Get Smart,” “Marley & Me” and “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.” He’s the father of actors Adam, Anthony and Matthew Arkin.

Eidson praised Arkin as “our kind of guy.”

“He’s off the beaten path,” she said. “He’s not your typical Hollywood guy.”

Festival Passes Passes for the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, which range from $50 to $250, are now on sale. The festival runs from March 12 to 21 at venues throughout the county. Organizers plan to announce the full festival schedule next week. For more information, call 546-3456 or visit www.slofilmfest.org.