San Diego Film Festival Gus Van Sant
San Diego Film Festival Tribute to Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant SDFF

The San Diego Film Festival had a grand night with its tribute to Oscar-nominated director, musician, and novelist Gus Van Sant. The Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla was decked out with a red carpet and SDFF amenities, such as an open bar and complimentary food, to give a warm welcome to the legendary director.

Many celebrities made an appearance at the VIP event, such as the real Pennie Lane, who inspired Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, 3 time Oscar-nominee Diane Ladd, and artist Eric Wahl.

After the entrances were made on the red carpet, and the drinks were downed in the lounge, the night begin with the tribute. Pennie Lane and Diane Ladd took the stage to share their experiences with the man of the hour. The speeches were followed by a performance by artist Eric Wahl, as he painted an extraordinary portrait of Van Sant in mere minutes to present as a gift to the acclaimed director. There were also some video messages from a couple of familiar faces: Ben Affleck and Robin Williams.

“[On his acting] I parlayed that, in fact, into a directing career. So you sort of shot yourself in the foot because now I’m coming after you. I wish you many, many, many, many, many thanks. You took a shot on two undoubtedly pretty obnoxious, precocious kids and you did for them the best possible thing, and you were patient, imaginative, thoughtful and kind,” Ben Affleck said.

The always-entertaining and outlandish Robin Williams also had a few things to say about Mr. Van Sant.

Eric Wahl Gus Van Sant tribute
Artist Eric Wahl at Gus Van Sant tribute

“San Diego, way to go dude, it’s a great award! You’re a wicked man Mr. Van Sant. You’re also so damn mellow I get the munchies just standing there next to you. Thank you for one of the most amazing experiences of my filmmaking career. We’re doing this on an iPhone, how cool is that? That didn’t even exist when we made the movie. Way to go, you’re the best,” Robin Williams chimed in.

After the tribute there was a presentation of the trailer for Van Sant’s new film, Promised Land, marking a reunion between Matt Damon and Van Sant. Then there was the screening of one of Van Sant’s greatest works, Good Will Hunting, for the 15th anniversary of its release.

“Thanks to the San Diego Film Festival for honoring me, and I want to know how he (Eric Wahl) drew that painting, but thank you, and thanks for this award, I will cherish it,” Gus Van Sant said.

The San Diego Film Festival rolls along with the much anticipated Almost Famous Block Party, starting at 6pm on Friday, September 28. There will be an open bar, food, live music, and an outdoor screening of Almost Famous for ticket holders and those with VIP passes. There will also be many amazing screenings tonight, including the Silver Linings Playbook, Below Zero, and Not Yet Begun to Fight.

For tickets and passes, check out the SDFF website.

Community San Diego Film Festival Day 2: Tribute to Gus Van Sant