The actress Geena Davis was awarded the Sarasota Film Festival's first "Impact Award" for her work on promoting the visibility of women in the media. Suddenly shy, the tall movie star, "Thelma" of Thelma and Louise, turned her back to diners feasting on shell fish and short ribs on the Sarasota Opera House stage, and, facing the empty seats, sang "Nina," an Italian art song, a favorite of her singing coach. Just last year, at the same event, Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye walked around the tables like troubadours, strumming and singing. There is just something about being on the stage of that opera house that brings out the inner voice. Or perhaps it is simply the joy of this premiere regional film festival, the brainchild of Board President, Mark Famiglio.
This year the festival also awarded Christopher Plummer a "Cinema Master Award." Plummer graciously said that flattery is the best drug, and if you get some, "Take it like a man." That advice became the mantra of the evening.
Plummer stars in a new movie, Beginners, directed by Mike Mills, co-starring Ewan MacGregor and Melanie Laurent, about a man approaching death coming out to his son. Forget the cock sure stiff captain of the beloved The Sound of Music. Plummer plays it with restraint, letting the "camp" and tears emerge from those around him.
As his son, MacGregor plays a graphic designer working on a book whose deeply affecting drawings reveal his take on sadness and love. No surprise, this character bears strong resemblance to the filmmaker: Drawings from the Film Beginners by Mike Mills will be published in June, 2011, in tandem with the movie's release.
Those who know Geena Davis well know that she too can draw, and speak Swedish. She is also an Olympic class archer. So can she sing? Trust me, she has the chops, and I hope she takes this praise any way she wants.
This post also appears on Gossip Central.