The 31st Mill Valley Film Festival, October 2 — 12, 2008, is pleased to honor one of Great Britain’s most promising actresses, Sally Hawkins (Cassandra’s Dream, Vera Drake), with the MVFF Spotlight Award for her portrayal as Poppy in writer/director Mike Leigh’s (2004 MVFF Tributee) new comedy, “Happy-Go-Lucky.”

The Spotlight Award recognizes the extraordinary talents of a film artist as exemplified in their current work. The 31st Mill Valley Film Festival will present the award to Ms. Hawkins and will screen the film on Oct. 7 at the Christopher B. Smith Film Center in downtown San Rafael. Award-winning director and screenwriter Mike Leigh (Vera Drake, MVFF 2004) will also be in attendance.

A reception will follow the program. Tickets to the Spotlight and Reception are $60; $25 for Spotlight Only. www.mvff.com

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

In the effervescent new comedy from writer/director Mike Leigh, Sally Hawkins stars as Poppy, an irrepressibly free-spirited school teacher who brings an infectious laugh and an unsinkable sense of optimism to every situation she encounters, offering us a touching, truthful and deeply life-affirming exploration of one of the most mysterious and often the most elusive of all human qualities: Happiness.

Shot in Mike Leigh’s renowned style in which the director and the actors create the characters in improv sessions before the cameras roll, Happy-Go-Lucky also features Eddie Marsan, Alexis Zegerman, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Stanley Townsend, Kate O’Flynn, Caroline Martin, Oliver Maltman, Sarah Niles, Samuel Roukin, Karina Fernandez, Nonso Anozie, Sinéad Matthews, and Andrea Riseborough.

SALLY HAWKINS

Happy-Go-Lucky marks RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts)-trained Sally Hawkins’ third collaboration with Mike Leigh. In 2001 Hawkins made her film debut as Samantha in Leigh’s All Or Nothing and then as Susan in Vera Drake (2004). Her other film roles include Matthew Vaughan's Layer Cake (2004) John Curran’s The Painted Veil (2006) Tom Shankland’s WAZ (2008) and, most recently, Woody Allen’s Cassandra’s Dream (MVFF 2007).

In addition to her rising film career, Hawkins holds a myriad of credits for British television, and in 2007 she won the Golden Nymph Award for Best Actress at the Monte Carlo Television Festival. Hawkins recently won The Silver Bear Award for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival for her portrayal of Poppy.

The Mill Valley Film Festival is delighted to present the Spotlight Award to Sally Hawkins, whose performance embodies the very soul and spirit of the accolade.

WRITER/DIRECTOR MIKE LEIGH

Not only have Leigh's films been a staple at MVFF for twenty years now (High Hopes, 1988; Naked, 1993, Secrets And Lies, 1996, to name a few) but, in addition to Leigh’s own recognition for the writing/direction of his films, the festival has played host to many of the talented British actresses Leigh has chosen to cast. With Leigh’s films, many have begun their journey towards international recognition—including Oscar nominations.

Sally Hawkins might well receive the Oscar nod herself as she joins the ranks of actresses who have graced Mill Valley with their superb performances.

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