From New York to Los Angeles, directors, actors, and movie buffs everywhere are celebrating city film festivals. This fall, the San Diego Film Festival is bringing both a host of events as well as several big names to the city. Last night, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla, actors and socialites converged to help celebrate the 15th anniversary of Good Will Hunting and to pay tribute to its award-winning director. The talented visionary is a two time, "Best Director" Academy Award nominee for both Good Will Hunting which debuted in 1997 starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and the 2008 film Milk starring Sean Penn and James Franco.
The pink of the setting September sun over La Jolla’s barreled waves painted a perfect backdrop for guests to enjoy a few cocktails before the Good Will Hunting anniversary screening and Retrospective & Tribute ceremony for the director. High heels and dresses mixed with well-cut jackets and converse sneakers as guests sipped vodka fruit soda blends and mingled with film stars, including actors from the “Native American Voices” segment of the festival as well as Mark Christopher Lawrence from the film In The Pursuit of Happyness, also starring Will Smith. After being ushered into the Sherwood Auditorium, a series of guest speakers, including the real Penny Lane (inspiration for the eponymous character from the 2000 comedy-drama Almost Famous) and Diane Ladd shared both their sentiments and high-regard for Van Sant.
Alongside the title of director, Van Sant is also a screenwriter, painter, photographer, musician, and author. Fellow artist Erik Wahl speed painted a portrait of the director to a montage of clips from his portfolio of films, including Mala Noche, My Own Private Idaho, Milk, Finding Forester, and To Die For. Funnyman Robin Williams telecommuted a special message during the event, switching from a nasally French accent to a decidedly stoner dialect. “Oh wait, San Diego, way to go dude, it’s a great award," Williams said "You’re so damn mellow I get the munchies just standing there next to you.” William teased the laid back director via iPhone before actor Ben Affleck signed on to also wish Van Sant congratulations.
Van Sant graciously accepted his award saying, “What a build up... Thanks to the San Diego Film Festival for honoring me, and I want to know how he (Wahl) drew that painting, but thank you, and thanks for this award, I will cherish it." The San Diego Film Festival events continue through Sunday September 29, 2012.