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Gallery Updates:, Public Events ♦ November 16, 2019

Leonardo DiCaprio attends the 14th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival honors Martin Scorsese with Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara on November 14, 2019 in Santa Barbara, California.

“One of the most remarkable things about Martin Scorsese — besides being one of our greatest filmmakers — is the generosity that he exudes to everybody on set, from his creative team to his crew and especially the actors that he works with. He treats each and every one of us as a real collaborator and that is not easily said. You can say you’re a collaborator but Marty truly wants to know what you have to say as an artist. These collaborations have been forged through the years. They’re strong, symbiotic relationships with Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci, and dare I say myself. Through the years, these collaborations have become more like his alter egos, his muse, or more like his family.” Leonardo expressed during his speech

DiCaprio then recalled the day, nearly 20 years ago, when he first “had the honor of stepping foot” on a Scorsese set for Gangs“I was 25 years old and I remember through the mastery of Dante Ferretti I was walking around these sets, it was like a mass scale caravansary that had popped up. He created New York’s Five Points suddenly before my eyes all within the walls of the very historic Cinecitta Studios in Rome. I knew at that moment my life and my work would never be the same. Working with Marty became almost like an encapsulated ecosystem that vastly enhanced my knowledge and appreciation for cinema as an entire art form historically. He quickly became much more than a director, he became collaborator, a mentor, a friend and a guide through the history of our shared cinematic past.”

Leonardo then turned his attention to the present to open up on his reaction to Scorsese’s latest, The Irishman“With his latest film, Marty has once again reunited with some of his most iconic collaborators,” he said of the epic which casts Pesci, Keitel, Pacino and DeNiro, the latter of whom anchors the story as Frank Sheeran, a truck driver turned top hit man. “It plays like an elegy. It’s a movie about looking upon what you’ve left behind and squaring up with all of it, but for me, what’s more astounding about this film, in my mind, Marty transcends his own signature genre and creates a film that methodically transforms itself into an exploration of our very own universally shared mortality. The film is absolutely breathtaking.”

DiCaprio then said as a whole, Scorsese’s “body of work will be revered for centuries and generations to come.” With that, he welcomed to the stage the man of the evening.

Then Martin Scorsese made his way to Ritz-Carlton Bacara ballroom stage, got a kiss on the cheek from presenter Leonardo DiCaprio and took his place behind the podium. He opened up on how he first fell in love with film at five years old, how Leonardo DiCaprio gave him a “new lease on life,” and why the industry should ignore algorithms and business calculations. But first, it was all about Douglas.

“He really had a very profound influence on me,” Scorsese explained. He said how in the late 1940s and early 1950s, cinema was “very essential” to his life primarily because he had asthma and thus, he wasn’t allowed to run or play ball. “So, they put me in a room and they took me to the movies.”

At that time — post World War II — Scorsese said the “mood of the films being made and the kinds of pictures people wanted to see” was changing. So were the stars on screen.

“There was a whole group of post-war actors, but there was one in the group who really stood out. … It was Kirk Douglas,” he continued. “The thing about this guy is that you couldn’t pin him down.” Scorsese went on to back up his assertion by listing the range Douglas displayed as a gangster in Out of the Past, a fighter in Champion, as a cultured English teacher in A Letter to Three Wives, as a monster producer in The Bad and the Beautiful (its poster has hung on Scorsese’s wall for 30 years) and as a washed-up star in Two Weeks in Another Town.

He loved the latter two films so much that Scorsese said he and frequent collaborator Robert De Niro attempted to pull together remakes for years. “We were obsessed with these pictures,” he noted, explaining that they tried different writers like Richard Price and Paul Schrader. “Somehow it all developed and found its way into The Irishman. That, in a funny way, is our version of what Kirk, [Vicente Minnelli] and all those guys did.”

More about Douglas. Scorsese also name-checked his films The Vikings, Lust for Life, The Juggler, Spartacus, Strangers When We Meet and Man Without a Star. “The thing about Douglas was that he seemed to live in all these films, in all these worlds. You couldn’t pin him down. He brought this very special quality. He had a very strong intensity…a strong desire to not be constrained by any conventions and certainly not limitations of the script, I can tell you. He went deep, deep into the emotional core … and this, kind of set him apart from the others.”

A compliment that has long followed Scorsese — and used to set him apart from the others — is a fierce loyalty to frequent collaborators both behind and in front of the camera. He paid special attention in his speech to the most recognizable ones, De Niro and DiCaprio. Scorsese explained that with the former, whom he has known since they were about 16 years old, there’s “an incredible trust” that has developed after doing so many films together. Their collaborations include iconic films like Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Cape Fear and Casino. Their latest is Netflix’s The Irishman, now in theaters, also stars Al Pacino.

Scorsese credited De Niro with introducing him to DiCaprio after the two actors made This Boy’s Life together in 1993. “He called me, he never does this, and said, ‘You gotta work with this kid, he’s really good.” So, they met up and it changed both of their lives thanks to creative partnerships on such films as Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street and the upcoming Killers of the Flower Moon.

“For the past 20 years, he’s given me as a filmmaker, creatively, a new lease on life. I can tell you that. Because I see the same kind of commitment in Leo that Kirk Douglas had. He was inspired in turn by Bob and Al’s generation who was inspired by Kirk’s generation.”

Martin Scorsese on Leonardo DiCaprio

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Appearances & Public Events – Events in 2019 – November 14: 14th Annual Santa Barbara Interna

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