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Savannah Film Festival: The final reel
McKellen, Rossellini and Gilford among the highlights of Week 2
"The Kid" is screened on Nov. 4, with an appearance by the film's director Nick Moran.

As we head into the second and final week of the 2010 Savannah Film Festival, the one question on everyone’s lips is: Will he or won’t he?

Will Sir Ian McKellen, who’ll honored here with a Lifetime Achievement Award Thursday, reprise his iconic role as the wizard Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit?

The hotly anticipated film begins shooting next February in New Zealand, with Jackson directing, and the cast has already been announced.

Except, that is, for Gandalf – who, as in the Oscar–winning Rings trilogy, is a major character. No more than three months ago, McKellen was talking as if the deal was done, and he’d definitely be making another journey into Middle Earth.

In an interview last week with, the actor played cagey. “At the moment,” he said, “no, I am not under contract ... I’m not going to say any more than that because it might complicate things.”

McKellen, 71, is one of Great Britain’s most celebrated stage and screen actors. He’s been in New York this week to host Only Make Believe, honoring an American non–profit organization that creates and performs interactive theater for children in hospitals and other care facilities.

In Savannah, he’ll be at the Trustees Theater Thursday afternoon to chat with the audience before a screening of Gods and Monsters, the 1998 film in which he starred as Frankenstein director James Whale.

Thursday evening, prior to a screening of Derek Cianfrance’s controversial Blue Valentine, McKellen will be presented with the SFF’s highest award, for his achievements onstage and in the movies.

Lest we forget, McKellen’s other films include Six Degrees of Separation, Apt Pupil, Richard III, the DaVinci Code and the X–Men series.

Other highlights of Week Two:

The aforementioned Blue Valentine, an emotionally crippling drama starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling (see our exclusive interview with writer/director Cianfrance elsewhere in this issue);

Appearances by Isabella Rossellini and Zach Gilford, who’ll screen their latest work (Seduce Me and The River Why, respectively). They’re both interviewed in this issue of Connect, too;

127 Hours, the latest film from director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting; Slumdog Millionaire), with James Franco in the based–on–fact story of a Utah hiker forced to amputate his own arm after a bolder trapped him, deep in the wilderness;

The Director’s Choice film, which is a secret until the projector is turned on and the title appears on the screen (last year, it was Up in the Air, before anyone at the multiplex got to see it). Personally, I’m hoping for The Conspirator;

Premieres of the acclaimed British movies Made in Dagenham and Another Year;

Some great student films, including a stellar collection of shorts created right here in Savannah;

Additional screenings of the independent films Beneath Hill 60, Night Catches Us and The Kid, terrific movies we told you all about in our previous issue;

The final awards ceremony, wrapping everything up quite nicely.

And, once again, did we mention the parties?

Like the merry band of mismatched warriors in The Fellowship of the Ring, let’s hope Gandalf the Grey – uh, Sir Ian – leads us into something truly adventurous and wonderful.