Truly an Honor: Kirk Douglas Visits SFJFFSubmitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2011-07-28 14:57
Last Sunday afternoon those in attendance at the SFJFF’s 50th Anniversary screening of Spartacus at the Castro Theatre were treated to a memorable appearance by Hollywood legend and all-around class act, Kirk Douglas, as he accepted the Festival’s Freedom of Expression Award. The 94 year-old arrived at noon on Sunday by private jet, and as Executive Director Peter Stein pointed out, was “spry” as ever. By 1PM, Douglas was climbing onto the stage in sneakers, with a magnetic smile and plenty of energy for the assembled audience of more than 1,000. Douglas accepted the award -- which recognized not only his body of work but specifically his actions in breaking the Hollywood Blacklist 50 years ago by giving full credit to blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo -- with a short speech in which he said that “freedom of expression [is] the most important aspect of our democracy.”
Though his speech is impaired from a stroke suffered 15 years ago, Kirk Douglas is still extremely articulate, witty and well-versed in winning over a crowd; “Once a heart-throb, always a heart-throb” was HuffPo blogger Jennifer Raiser's summation of the event. After his speech, Douglas sat down for a candid and topical on-stage interview with SFJFF Executive Director Peter L. Stein in which he suggested that at times there was "too much religion," citing a meeting of Orthodox Rabbis with Irani president Ahmadinejad. Douglas left the theater before the 3-hour screening of Spartacus, telling the audience that he would stay, but he had “already seen the picture.” He blew a kiss to the Castro Theatre crowd, took the time to shake the hands of adoring audience-members, and was gone.