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What's Next: Big movies, celebs at Savannah Film Festival
A scene from "Precious, Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire." The film's director and star will attend the Savannah screening.

Actors Patricia Clarkson, Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster and Emmy Rossum are the celeb honorees who’ll turn up at the SCAD–sponsored 2009 Savannah Film Festival, Oct. 31–Nov. 7

That’s cool news, to be sure, but the Savannah Film Festival – a week–long blend of big–budget features (many of them before their national release dates), shorts, documentaries, student films and get–into–the–business workshops – is taking its place among the country’s impressive cinematic showcases.

Among the films receiving exclusive screenings in Savannah: An Education, based on Lynn Barber’s memoir of life in swinging early 1960s London, with a screenplay by Nick Hornby; Pedro Almodovar’s Los Abrazos Rotos; Richard E. Grant and Carrie–Anne Moss in Love Hurts; Telstar, another early ‘60s pop music parable, this one starring Kevin Spacey and Con O’Neill; Anthony Hopkins and Laura Linney in James Ivory's The City of Your Final Destination (with Ivory in attendance); the 2008 drama The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (Bryce Dallas Howard, Ellen Burstyn), based on a “lost” Tennessee Williams story.

Then there’s the paranormal military mystery The Men Who Stare At Goats (with George Clooney and Ewan McGregor); the British historical drama The Young Victoria (Emily Blunt, from The Devil Wears Prada, stars as young Queen Vicky); the award–winning Valentino: The Last Emperor.

You can catch director Lee Daniels’ moving Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival. Daniels and his star star Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe will be in attendance.

Precious is about an illiterate, abused teen, twice impregnated by her own father. Tyler Perry is the film’s executive producer.

As for the stars, Clarkson is one of those character actors whose name you might not know, but whom you’ll immediately recognize. She was the cancer–afflicted warden’s wife in The Green Mile, TV news writer Shirley Wershba in Good Night, and Good Luck and was unforgettable in Pieces of April, Lars and the Real Girl, Far From Heaven and Woody Allen’s Vicki Christina Barcelona.

In fact, Clarkson co–stars in Allen’s Whatever Works, which will be screened at the festival. She’s to receive an Outstanding Achievement in Cinema award.

With his new film Zombieland just in theaters, one–time Cheers star Harrelson is getting the same award, and will screen his next movie, The Messenger. The film also stars the fantastic young actor Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, Alpha Dog, X–Men: The Last Stand), who’s being honored by SCAD as well.

Rossum, SCAD’s Young Hollywood Award winner, came to prominence in the big–screen musical version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, and was one of the few bright spots in the sinking ship known as Wolfgang Petersen’s Poseidon.

Jurors are actress Patti D’Arbanville (Rescue Me), actress/producer Rita Gam, writer/director Ingrid Rockefeller, writer/director Michael Sucsy (of the recent, Emmy–Award winning and phenomenal Grey Gardens, also scheduled for a screening) and writer/director David Twohy, whose screenwriting credits include The Fugitive, Waterworld and G.I. Jane.

The screening films (at the Lucas and the Trustees) were selected out of 525 submissions from 37 states and 27 countries. You can find the full schedule, and ticket information, at