Brit actor to present Maverick Spirit Award

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Audiences at Cinequest, the San Jose Film Festival, are off to see the wizard this weekend, as a last-minute addition to the 12th annual event brings Ian McKellen to town for a Maverick Spirit Award presentation and moderated discussion.

The Brit stage actor has been onscreen sporadically since 1968, but that secondary career — already boosted by acclaimed leads in “Gods and Monsters” and “Apt Pupil” — hit a plateau with his Oscar-nommed role as Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” Appearance will take place Saturday; precise hour and location were not yet fixed Monday.

Another late addition to fest’s program takes place the following day: Indie acting queen Lili Taylor will accept her own Maverick nod at 2 p.m. Sunday following the screening of an early vehicle, Nancy Savoca’s 1991 pic “Dogfight.” Event joins previously announced in-person tributes to thesp David Strathairn (Friday) and veteran film composer Lalo Schifrin (Thursday); latter’s work is also being retro’d this week with unspoolings of classics “Bullitt,” “Dirty Harry” and “The Hellstrom Chronicles.”

Cinequest, which has rapidly expanded in recent years, is reveling this year in its recent selection as one of the top 10 fests internationally by editors of “The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide.” In progress since Feb. 21 at locations throughout the South Bay, 2002’s edition officially closes Sunday afternoon with screening of Alexandre Rockwell’s Slamdance-preemed “13 Moons,” with helmer and principal cast members in attendance.

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