Denzel Washington to be honored as a Modern Master at Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has found its 2017 Maltin Modern Master in actor, director and producer Denzel Washington, as announced Tuesday morning.

The award, renamed in 2015 to honor film critic and longtime SBIFF moderator Leonard Maltin, was established in 1995 to honor an individual whose accomplishments in the film industry have enriched American culture.

“Denzel Washington directing, producing and acting in ‘Fences’ defines the Modern Master for the 21st century,” SBIFF executive director Roger Durling said in a statement. 

Washington’s latest project, an adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer-winning play “Fences,” tells the story of a 1950s Pittsburgh sanitation worker and former Negro League baseball player, Troy Maxson (Washington), and his struggle to provide for his family. 

The film features both Washington and Viola Davis reprising their roles from the 2010 Broadway production of the play, which garnered them both Tony Awards. It opens in theaters Dec. 25.

Washington joins an elite list of previous Maltin award winners, including Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, Will Smith and 2016 winner Johnny Depp.

The 32nd Santa Barbara International Film Festival begins Feb. 1, and Washington will receive the Maltin Modern Master award Feb. 2 at Santa Barbara’s historic Arlington Theatre. The award ceremony will feature a 90-minute conversation between Washington and Maltin.

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