BLYTHE DANNER TO RECEIVE RIIFF's
Acclaimed Actress to Receive Recognition at this Year's Film Festival
RI: Every year, the Rhode Island International Film Festival recognizes outstanding directors, actors, and film talent for their contributions to the art of filmmaking with the Creative Vision Award. Actress Blythe Danner will be 2008’s recipient of this esteemed award. Danner’s gleaming performances are an inspiration to our local theater and filmmaking community. Danner’s film Side by Each will be featured in this year’s festival, and have its World Premiere on Saturday, August 9th at the Columbus Theartre Arts Center, 270 Broadway, Providence, RI.
Blythe Danner is a woman of many talents. As a twice over Emmy Award and Tony Award winner she is a success story in the world of media artistry. Her bright career can be traced back to RIIFF’s hometown, Providence, RI.
Ms. Danner first took to the stage with the Trinity Repertory Company located in the heart of Providence. By the early age of 25, she had already gained national recognition by winning the Theatre World Award for her performance in The Miser. This was only the beginning of a long line of tremendous achievements.
Previous recipients of RIIFF’s Creative Vision
Award have been Rhode Island Director, Michael Corrente; German directing legend, Rosa von
Praunheim and Elaine Lorillard, Founder of the Newport
The presentation of the Creative Vision Award will take place prior to
the World Premiere of her latest feature film, "Side By Each," on Saturday, August 9th at 7:00 p.m. Special
guests and friends of the actress are expected to
be in attendance. Tickets are $10 for the screening and can be purchased in advance (see bottom of the page for a hotlink) or at the door.
BACKGROUND ON BLYTHE DANNER (credits)
A genteel blonde with a throaty voice who made her mark on the stage before concentrating on raising a family, Blythe Danner has often been called one of America's most underrated and underused actresses. After an upbringing on Philadelphia's Main Line, Danner spent part of 1961 as a foreign exchange student in Germany and was present when the Berlin Wall was erected. When she returned to the USA, she attended Bard College and spent a summer singing with a jazz group in Vermont. Following her graduation, Danner landed a job with the Theatre Company of Boston, where she made her professional debut as Laura in "The Glass Menagerie". Her NYC debut came with the troupe's 1966 revue "The Infantry" which was staged off-Broadway. Danner first gained prominence with the Lincoln Center productions "Summertime" (1968) and "The Miser" (1969), and her winsome performances led to her first Broadway play. As Jill Tanner, the free-spirited divorcee who intrigues a blind neighbor in "Butterflies Are Free" (also 1969), the actress ascended to stardom and won a Tony Award in the process.
Although she had begun working in television (i.e., "George M", NBC 1970; "Doctor Cook's Garden", ABC 1971), Danner was not considered enough of a name to reprise her stage role when it came time to film "Butterflies Are Free" (the part went to Goldie Hawn). Instead, she acted opposite Alan Alda in the thriller "To Kill a Clown" and cut a buoyant figure—and displayed a lovely singing voice—as Martha Jefferson opposite Ken Howard's Thomas Jefferson in the film of the hit musical "1776" (both 1972). She and Howard shared chemistry and they rejoined in the Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy roles in a short-lived sitcom adaptation of "Adam's Rib" (ABC, 1973).
Danner got to display her formidable talents as a woman torn between two friends in "Lovin' Molly" (1974), an underrated adaptation of Larry McMurtry's novel "Leaving Cheyenne". On the small screen, the actress was perfectly cast as Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald in the ABC drama "F. Scott Fitzgerald and 'The Last of the Belles'" (1974). That same year, Danner also began a long-running association with the Williamstown Theatre Festival, starring as Nina in "The Seagull" which was filmed and aired on public television.
As a script girl who falls for a cowboy hero (Jeff Bridges), Danner enlivened "Hearts of the West" (1975) but she was wasted in the sci-fi tinged "Futureworld" (1976). Except for her expert portrayal of Robert Duvall's long-suffering wife in "The Great Santini" (1979), her best work in the second half of the 70s was on the small screen. She was terrific as the baseball player's spouse in "A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story" (NBC, 1978), opposite Edward Herrmann, and as Michael Moriarty's WASPish wife in the superior "Too Far To Go" (NBC, 1979), adapted from John Updike's short stories.
As the 80s progressed and her children grew, Danner became more active, earning a 1980 Tony nod for her adulterous wife in Harold Pinter's "Betrayal" before headlining a revival of "The Philadelphia Story". She also delivered excellent performances as Annie Sullivan in "Helen Keller -- The Miracle Continues" (syndicated, 1984) and as the wife of a lawyer (Anthony Hopkins) who is targeted for murder in "Guilty Conscience" (CBS, 1985). Danner and Judith Ivey were both too WASPish, however, to convincingly play Jewish sisters in the 1986 film adaptation of Neil Simon's semi-autobiographical "Brighton Beach Memoirs". On the other hand, she and Ivey worked well as the two spouses of Richard Chamberlain's writer in a 1987 Broadway revival of Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit". The following year, Danner picked up another Tony nomination as Blanche Du Bois in "A Streetcar Named Desire". Continuing her stage career, she was excellent as Beatrice to Kevin Kline's Benedick in a Central Park staging of "Much Ado About Nothing".
The 1990s saw Danner work frequently with her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow, including on stage at Williamstown in "Picnic" in 1991 and "The Seagull" in 1994. Paltrow also played Danner’s daughter in the 1992 NBC miniseries "Cruel Doubts". Danner had one of her best screen roles as Nick Nolte's estranged wife in "The Prince of Tides" (1991). She later co-starred with Roy Scheider in "The Myth of Fingerprints" (1997) and was one of the hostages taken by John Travolta in "Mad City" (also 1997). Danner was bizarrely cast as Kate Capshaw's mother in the romantic comedy "The Love Letter" (1999) but was better suited to the low-key comedy as Robert De Niro's WASPish wife in "Meet the Parents" (2000). In 2001, she was cast as the mother of Cameron Diaz and Jordana Brewster in "The Invisible Circus" before she tackled her first Broadway musical role as Phyllis in the revival of Stephen Sondheim & James Goldman's "Follies".
In 2002, Danner received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Movie for her role as Corinne Mulvaney in the Lifetime drama "We Were The Mulvaneys." Danner began the fall of 2002 with what looked to be a positive note, returning to series television with the CBS hospital drama "Presidio Med," but tragedy struck in her personal life when husband Bruce Paltrow died of complications from pneumonia and a recurrence of throat cancer while vacationing in Rome to celebrate their daughter's 30th birthday. Mother and daughter bounced back to work together in "Sylvia" (2003), with Danner playing Aurelia Plath, mother of the noted poet Sylvia Plath.
On television, Danner struck a lighter note with a recurring role on the hit sit-com "Will & Grace" (NBC, 1998- ), playing Marilyn Truman, Will's brittle blueblood mother whose life goes into a tailspin when her husband (Sydney Pollack) leaves her for his mistress. Danner then reprised her role as Dina Byrnes in the sequel, “Meet the Fockers” (2004). As with its predecessor, wild hype trumped mediocre reviews, as this tepid comedy attracted audiences in droves and became a box office hit. Danner had a banner year in 2005, scoring three Emmy nominations: for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series on "Will & Grace;" Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for " Back When We Were Grownups" (2004) as a 53-year-old single mother and grandmother with a colorful family; and the trophy she took home, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series with her delightful turn as Izzy Huffstodt, off-kilter mother of psychiatrist Craig 'Huff' Huffstodt (Hank Azaria) on the acclaimed Showtime series "Huff" (2004 -).
RIIFF is the largest Film Festival in New England.
Celebrating the art of film has always been a critical
part of the Rhode Island International Film Festival
a factor that has solidified RIIFF’s reputation
as a filmmaker-friendly event.
The Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF)
is dedicated to the creation of opportunities for
artistic interaction and exchange among independent
filmmakers, directors, producers, distributors,
backer, and the film-going community. Rhode Island
Governor Donald Carcieri, Providence Mayor David M.
Cicilline, and US Senator Jack Reed serve as honorary
chairs to this year’s event. During the 2008
event, 289 films will be presented.
The Rhode Island International Film Festival is supported in part by the City of Providence, the Providence Tourism Council, the Providence Department of Arts, Culture & Tourism, WJAR TV10, The Providence Phoenix, Clear Channel Communications, Sony, SAG/INDIE, HB Communications, CVS, NewEnglandFilm.com, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Amtrak, URI's College of Arts and Sciences, URI's Feinstein College of Continuing Education, the URI Film Media Program, Rule Broadcast/Boston Camera, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Art New England Magazine and contributions from members and community supporters.
The Flickers Arts Collaborative, which created and
produces RIIFF, is a non-profit organization with
over 25 years of experience presenting major artistic events
as well as independent and foreign films to the public,
• HOTLINK TO PURCHASE A TICKET FOR THIS EVENT •
To purchase tickets or obtain
more information about any aspect of RIIFF, please call 401-861-4445;
or write RIIFF, 268 Broadway, Providence, RI 02903;