Hollywood comes to SLO Film Festival to honor Bogdanovich

Actor Timothy Bottoms, right, presents film director Peter Bogdanovich with the King Vidor Career Achievement Award at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival Saturday night.
Actor Timothy Bottoms, right, presents film director Peter Bogdanovich with the King Vidor Career Achievement Award at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival Saturday night. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich accepted the King Vidor Career Achievement Award on Saturday night at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

Bogdanovich, 75, said he was touched to receive the award because he knew its namesake, “War and Peace” director King Vidor.

“He was an extraordinary person,” Bogdanovich said of Vidor. “To accept an award named after him is an honor to me.”

Bogdanovich, the Academy Award-nominated director of “The Last Picture Show,” “Paper Moon” and “What's Up, Doc?” received tributes from two actors during the awards ceremony held at the Fremont Theatre in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Timothy Bottoms presented the festival’s highest award to Bogdanovich, and Jeff Bridges shared a video message following the presentation. The two starred in “The Last Picture Show” during the early days of their careers.

“If it wasn't for you, Peter, I wouldn't have a career,” Bottoms told Bogdanovich. “In my experience as an actor, you could only trust one person and that's the director. I trusted you and I'm thankful that I did because you gave me a life.”

Bridges expressed similar sentiments.

“You're in the presence of an amazing filmmaker, a remarkable artist,” Bridges said. “I hold him responsible for my whole career. He really gave me my first shot with ‘The Last Picture Show.’”

Actor Bill Paxton was in the audience, but did not speak.

Past recipients of the King Vidor Award, which recognizes career excellence in filmmaking, include Bridges, Morgan Freeman and James Cromwell.

During a question-and-answer session led by Jim Dee, owner of the Palm Theatre in San Luis Obispo, Bogdanovich demonstrated his encyclopedic knowledge of film history, his talent for storytelling and his dazzling gift for mimicry.

Nattily attired in a charcoal grey suit, light blue shirt and his signature blue neckerchief, Bogdanovich discussed his career and delivered a sharp critique of today's movie industry. Asked about his definition of directing, Bogdanovich quoted James Cagney: “A real director is a guy who, if I don't know what to do, will get up and show me.”

He also emphasized the importance of studying cinema’s past. “Too many people say, ‘I don't want to see black-and-white (movies).’ C’mon. Don't be an idiot.”

The evening included clips from many of Bogdanovich’s films. In addition to “The Last Picture Show,” “Paper Moon,” “What's Up, Doc?,” “The Cat’s Meow,” and “Mask,” the audience was treated to scenes from “She’s Funny That Way,” Bogdanovich’s latest film that opens in theaters nationwide in May.

Saturday’s red-carpet event included the George Sidney Independent Film and Central Coast Filmmaker Awards.

“Girl on the Edge” won best narrative feature during the independent film awards, and “Zemene” received best documentary feature. Also honored were short narrative film “The Bravest, The Boldest,” short documentary “Tomgirl” and student film “Day One.”

The festival also recognized movies made by local filmmakers, including “Tiger Orange,” which won best narrative feature, and “Lutah,” which received best documentary feature. Other Central Coast winners included short narrative film “Roaring Camp” and short documentary “Clos Solene.”

“What If” and “B-Man” tied for best student film.

Festival goers gave audience awards of best narrative feature to “Girl on the Edge,” best documentary to “Do You Dream In Color?” and best short film to “Day One.” The Neil Travis Best in the Fest Award went to “Personal Gold.”

All award winners will be playing at the Fremont Theatre starting Monday and running through Thursday.

The award-winning short films will be screened at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Avila Beach Community Center, in Avila Beach, 191 San Miguel St., and the Best in the Fest winner will screen at 4 p.m. Sunday at Mission Cinemas, 1025 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo.