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H’wood fest’s top kudo goes to ‘Marlene’

Freeman, Dreyfuss feted for film contributions

With a gala attracting some 1,200 attendees, the fourth annual Hollywood Film Festival came to a close Monday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, bestowing awards on Hollywood vets and indie filmmakers alike.

The indie-produced “Marlene,” about Marlene Dietrich, helmed by Germany’s Joseph Vilmaier, took best feature. “A Place Nearby,” a drama about a mother’s devoted love for her autistic son, directed by Denmark’s Kaspar Rostrup, nabbed kudos for best European feature.

Special honors went to Richard Dreyfuss and Morgan Freeman for their contributions to the art of film, and also to Richard Donner, Jonathan Krane, Mace Neufeld, Thelma Schoonmaker, Michael Kamen, Henry Bumstead, Kenny Loggins, Angelina Jolie, Russell Crowe and casting director Michael Fenton.

“My first and most profound influences were those who worked in front of the camera,” said Dreyfuss. “Whatever I’ve been taught about manhood and honor and integrity and love and women and all that kind of stuff was originally lasered into my hard disk by actors.”

Fenton, upon receiving his award, suggested that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recognize casting as a category as well. Actress Halle Berry presented his award.

Donner accepted his honor for outstanding achievement in directing after his wife, producer Lauren Shuler-Donner, told stories about his on-set pranks.

Before the ceremony, Donner said that in his lengthy helming career, the film closest to his heart was “Ladyhawke.”

“My wife produced it and hired me to direct it,” Donner said about the pic’s unrequited love. “Then I fell in love with her and she married me.”

Composer Kamen, who scored many of Donner’s films, including the four “Lethal Weapon” pics, was recognized for outstanding achievement in music in film.

“I’m proud of my work, and it’s for a lifetime achievement,” Kamen said of his award, “but can I have a half-a-lifetime achievement award? Do I have to stop?”

On a musical note, Loggins was handed his kudos for outstanding achievement in songwriting by actor Jeff Bridges, his neighbor and friend.

“I had mixed emotions at first. Sometimes I’m not very comfortable with so much spotlight on me,” said Loggins, who is two days into starting his new album, “but sometimes you just need to get with the gig. You need to let it in and enjoy it.”

Impressive numbers

Fest featured 35 pics screened in competition at Paramount Studios during six days as well as panel discussions held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Fest organizers estimate total attendance at more than 20,000.

Johnny Crawford and his 12-piece orchestra performed at Monday’s closing ceremony, which attracted such celebs as John Travolta, Berry, Francis Ford Coppola, Hector Elizondo, Frances Fisher, Michael Mann, Kelly Preston, Lynn Redgrave and James Woods.

“We are delighted by the response we have received from Hollywood and the independent filmmaking community during the course of this past week,” said Carlos de Abreu, who with Janice Pennington founded the fest in 1997.

More award winners

Other fest honorees were “Flight of Fancy,” helmed by Puerto Rican Noel Quinones, for best Latin film, and Craig Brewer’s “The Poor and Hungry,” named best digital movie.

Best docu kudos were bestowed upon “My Khmer Heart” and “Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness.” Shlomo Buchler’s “Soledad” was named best short film and “The Monkey’s Tale,” from helmer Jean Francois Laguionie, took best animated film.

A Hollywood Young Filmmakers award went to “Genesis and Catastrophe,” directed by Jonathan Lieberman.

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