Category: Patty Fantasia
Published on 20 December 2009
Written by Patty Fantasia
Patty Fantasia - Actor Ernie Hudson Presents Awards at the International Film Festival Summit
By Patty Fantasia
Photos by Patty Fantasia
Actor Ernie Hudson Presents Awards at the International Film Festival Summit
One of the highlights at the 6th annual International Film Festival Summit held from December 6th through the 8th at Planet Hollywood was the presentation of the Excellence Awards. This year, for the third time in a row, the honor of acting as Master of Ceremonies went to actor Ernie Hudson.
A staunch supporter of film festivals, Hudson is proud to be associated with the IFFS, which is the only event recognizing the talented individuals who work in this field. “I’m honored, flattered, they ask me to be a part of it,” he says modestly. “It’s important for them to get recognized” he adds admitting that sometimes it’s “thankless work” and that “it’s good for them to know who else is out there.”
A festival fan for many reasons, Ernie believes that they provide training for young people that isn’t as accessible in the Unites States as it is in the government sponsored type programs offered in countries like Canada and Australia. He also believes they are “a way to bring us together as a community” and that they “give an outlet for movies to be shown and that means a lot to me.”
The down to earth actor, who is well known for film roles in “Ghostbusters” and “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” and for his television appearances on “Desperate Housewives”, “Heroes” and Law and Order”, is grateful for the opportunities he’s had and humbly admits, “I got into it to be a working actor.” This is probably another reason why he’s so drawn to the festival experience. “It comes from average people,” he explains. “We need to support these festivals and hopefully they’ll keep growing.” One of the most memorable performances for him on a personal level was in a film called “Everything’s Jake”, which never got a theatrical release and went into DVD distribution following its festival screenings. The film was produced by two unknowns who raised financing by having Ernie attached to the project. He confides that he took the part because he “loved the character”, which was about a homeless guy who refused to let the circumstances of his life break his spirit. Hudson says the film’s message is “about the money. If your money goes life ends. This character said ‘I’m good’. You didn’t hurt me. I’m depending on God, not you.” He strongly believes that the festivals are the place where movies like this one receive their chance to be seen and appreciated by people. “They can come and they can meet people. The filmmakers show up and you can meet them. It’s important to bring in really talented people and important for the community to be aware that it’s happening.”
A native of Benton Harbor, Michigan, the father of four sons also believes that the opportunities created by film festivals benefit young people looking for opportunities to break into the entertainment business. By providing outlets where independent movies can be shown they help nurture talent. “You want to see people succeed. The answer is independent films,” he relates.
Hudson’s involvement with festivals goes back to when he became involved with the Creative Coalition, which is the largest arts advocacy group. Now, he’s become associated with many events including hosting the Lake Arrowhead Film Festival’s gala. His devotion comes from the heart and from his beliefs, which were taught to him early on from a very spiritual mother. He believes that in telling the stories of complicated everyday heroes and portraying their struggles we benefit and that independent filmmaking and the festivals supporting it play an important part in this. “There’s no way to incorporate the poor. People feel disenfranchised. We have to get people involved and we have to claim our cities. We need more of a sense of community because we don’t recognize that we’re all connected. It’s an inside thing. We like to be exclusive and we need to be more inclusive.”
A consummate professional, Ernie’s going to continue looking for roles that convey this and he’s also writing now, so perhaps if the next great part he wants to take on doesn’t find him, he’ll simply create it and we’ll see his stories being told in some of his favorite places – the film festivals.