The honor is one of many expected to come Dafoe’s way this Oscar season for his work in Sean Baker’s film. He was also nominated for the best actor Gotham Award by the New York-based Independent Filmmaker Project.
“Willem Dafoe has brought countless unforgettable characters to the big screen,” said SBIFF executive director Roger Durling. “His role in ‘The Florida Project’ perfectly embodies his talent and imagination.”
The Cinema Vanguard honor is given annually to an actor who has forged his or her own path, taking artistic risks and making a significant and unique contribution to film. Previous recipients include Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Rooney Mara, Amy Adams, Nicole Kidman, Christoph Waltz, and Ryan Gosling.
“The Florida Project” has made over $3 million in limited release so far.
The 33rd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs Jan. 31 through Feb. 10.