Nov. 15--The stars are popping out early for the upcoming Santa Barbara International Film Festival, as Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and media mogul Oprah Winfrey already have been announced as the first two red-carpet honorees.
Blanchett will receive the festival's Outstanding Performer of the Year Award for her role in the well-received Woody Allen movie "Blue Jasmine" on Feb. 1 at the Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St.
Blanchett, a five-time Oscar nominee, won her Academy Award for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in the 2004 film "The Aviator." Blanchett was a previous festival honoree, in 2008.
Winfrey, the popular talk-show host and namesake television network owner, will receive the festival's Montecito Award for a series of classic performances on Feb. 5, also at the Arlington. Winfrey's latest film is "Lee Daniels' The Butler" and she made her acting debut in the 1985 film "The Color Purple."
More celebrity honorees will be announced in coming weeks.
The festival's 29th edition runs from Jan. 30 to Feb. 9 at various venues around town. Once again, it is situated amid the awards season frenzy that includes the Oscars; the highly coveted nominations come out Jan. 16, and the prized golden statuettes will be handed out on national and international television on March 2.
Tickets to both the Blanchett and Winfrey tributes are available now ($35 each) and can be purchased at www.sbfilmfestival.org or by calling the festival office at 963-0023.
Organizers also have announced that Forest Whitaker, Winfrey's co-star in "The Butler" (she played his wife), will receive the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film at a black-tie gala dinner Dec. 15 at the Bacara Resort & Spa, 8301 Hollister Ave. in Goleta.
The annual event is one of the nonprofit festival's prime fundraisers.
Whitaker won an Oscar for his performance as the polarizing Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 film "The Last King of Scotland." He was honored by the Santa Barbara festival for that early the next year.
Individual tickets to that are $275 and tables of 10 range from $5,000 to $25,000; those are also available at the above contacts.
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