San Diego Film Festival – Gus Van Sant Tribute Evening

San Diego Film Festival

The San Diego Film Festival held a special tribute for award-winning director screenwriter, producer, actor, author – and musician – Gus Van Sant on Thursday, September 27th at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. Personal messages from actor and comedian Robin Williams and actor, film director, writer, and producer, Ben Affleck were played on screen. “Way to go, you’re the best” said Williams. Guest speakers included the inspiration behind Kate Hudson’s character in the film Almost Famous, Pennie Lane, and actress, film director, producer, author and 3 time Oscar Nominee, Diane Ladd.

Lane spoke about her first time meeting Sant and her admiration for entertainers. She said she never wanted to be famous and spoke about how many people prefer to be behind the scenes including Sant. “Gus, I know how much you hate to be the center of attention but tonight is your night so please forgive us all.” They met at a restaurant and as he received lots of attention from fellow diners she secretly thought he was “probably in a band.” They exchanged numbers and have been friends since.

Diane Ladd spoke next about the importance of sharing your stories. “A film festival is one of the true pathways to culture. And you know what, I fortunately believe that culture can be as powerful a weapon as a bomb. If a country loses its culture, then the country loses its civilization.” She then introduced the internationally recognized graffiti artist, author and entrepreneur, Erik Wahl.

The audience got a wonderful performance of Wahl creating a portrait of Sant along side a retrospective montage of Sant’s films. At the end he also brought out a pre-made painting of the Good Will Hunting poster.

After the performance Ladd spoke a little more about Sant, “When a great filmmaker like this man makes a film, oh golly, doesn’t it make you feel who you are and what you can do, that you can do anything you put your mind to.” Once introduced, Sant received a standing ovation and accepted his award with a short speech thanking the San Diego Film Festival, Lane and Ladd, the audience, and “everybody that I’ve worked for in the past.” After a joke about wanting to know how Wahl created the portrait he gave a simple, “Thanks for this award, I will cherish it, thanks.”

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