Mira Sorvino, Smart as She is Talented, to Receive Anaheim International Film Fest Honor

The Anaheim International Film Festival, which rolls through Sunday, previously announced that besides awards for entered films, special honors will be presented at Saturday night's black-tie gala to director

Jonathan Lynn

, actor

Hector Elizondo

and philanthropists

Bruno Serato


Larry and Kristina Dodge

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One more trophy case gets hardware as it's been announced Mira Sorvino will be the recipient of the AIFF's first Film Honors Spotlight Award, which she can set next to her Oscar, Golden Globe and assorted film festival and critic group awards.

Mira Sorvino and Barry Pepper in Like Dandelion Dust.
Mira Sorvino and Barry Pepper in Like Dandelion Dust.

Mira Sorvino and Barry Pepper in Like Dandelion Dust.

The AIFF Spotlight Award honors "a film artist's performance or work in a single film that exhibits both an exceptional achievement onscreen, as well as a singular dedication to the project or film community as whole," the festival notes in the announcement. That single performance is Sorvino's role in

Jon Gunn


Like Dandelion Dust

, a $2.5 million independent feature based on

Karen Kingsbury

's novel. Sorvino plays Wendy Porter, the matriarch of a blue collar family whose struggles are contrasted with the achievements of a privileged family. Their lives intersect, intertwine and collide.

"Mira Sorvino is an award-winning actress that has not simply built a career on an ability to move effortlessly from comedy to drama, studio films to indies, and everything in between, but she has also demonstrated a peerless integrity in her approach and support of her projects which has reached a pinnacle with Like Dandelion Dust," AIFF executive director Jo Moulton says in the announcement. "It's more than admirable and makes her the perfect choice for our first Spotlight Award honoree."

Sorvino will certainly be among the smartest AIFF honorees. The New Jersey native and daughter of veteran character actor Paul Sorvino (who dissuaded her from acting) attended Harvard, where she majored in Chinese and graduated magna cum laude largely on the strength of her Hoopes Prize-winning thesis on racial conflict in China. She researched and wrote the paper during a year spent in Beijing, which helped her become fluent in Mandarin Chinese. She is also fluent in French.

Her Academy Award and Golden Globe came from Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite, of course.

A special screening of Like Dandelion Dust, which hit the festival circuit last year, has been added to the AIFF schedule. It screens where all the AIFF films are screening: UltraStar Cinemas at Anaheim GardenWalk. Show time is 4 p.m. Saturday.

Red-carpet arrivals for the awards gala presented by the Anaheim Disney Resort begin at 5 p.m. in front of the the Grand Californian Hotel, 1600 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim. Attendees who shelled out $150 for the Sequoia Ballroom celebration go on to a VIP presentation of the "World of Color" show at Disney's California Adventure.

Michael Corbett, a correspondent with the nationally syndicated show Extra, is the emcee and actors Robbie Coltrane and Tony Plana and screenwriter David S. Ward are among the award presenters.

The local honorees--Lawrence and Kristina Dodge, who sometimes live in Newport Beach and are the namesakes of Chapman University of Orange's film school, and Anaheim White House restaurant owner Bruno Serato--will be presented the AIFF Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian awards respectively.

For those who can't shell out $150 to party (if there are even seats left), interesting filmmaker panels have been added to the Saturday schedule:

  • "A Conversation With Kerry Barden, Motion Picture/Television Casting Director": He has cast more than 200 films, television shows and plays over an 18-year career and is currently casting The Help with director Tate Taylor, Machine Gun Preacher with Marc Forster, Conan with Marcus Nispel and The Fields with Ami Mann. 10-11:30 a.m. Devin Scott moderates.
  • "The Director as the Collaborator": An in-depth look at managing the three-ring circus of film production is shared by directors Alejandro Adams (Canary), Justin Evans (A Lonely Place for Dying) and Jonathan Lynn (Wild Target). Noon-1:30 p.m. John Wildman moderates.

Visit anaheimfilm.org or ultrastarmovies.com for more details and to snag tickets.

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