By Joy Patterson
It’s February 2nd, a little cold and drizzly, and I got into the car. The engine starts and I am being driven towards downtown. It soon becomes apparent that there is an event on State Street, as the cars are jammed up and there are people swarming towards the Arlington Theater. We are all there for one person. Denzel Washington.
Tonight he would be receiving the Maltin Modern Master Award, one of SBIFF’s highest honors, at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
I wave goodbye to my ride, walk past the barrier surrounding the theater. I stand around the secondary barrier that keeps the public away from the stars. The crowd is two bodies deep and there is a buzz of excitement in the air. A name can clearly be heard coming from every direction. Denzel Washington.
People start cheering, myself included, as a limo pulls into the corral. Suddenly, a tall, dark figure wearing a suit steps out. The crowds cheering intensifies. The person we were all waiting for is standing there, smiling.
People start calling out to him, trying to get him to come over, to get an autograph, to touch the man we have been watching perform for years. He walks past the fans, smiling and joking with us. People chant his name as his handlers usher him away. From the people all around my people cheered, called, and whispered: “Denzel Washington!”
As soon as Denzel left to be interviewed, half of the crowd wandered away. After a few minutes, Shelton, Olivia, and Emerson come out from interviewing people on the red carpet. I get a pass from a Emerson and head into the theater with Olivia. There is one thought running through my mind and it doesn’t take a genius to guess what it was. Denzel Washington.
Volunteers see my press pass and quickly allow me to pass, so much so I feel a bit like a star! Once I am into the Arlington theater, I realize just how many people came to this event. All the seats, except for some those in the last ten rows, are taken. Roger Durling takes the stage and the crowd cheers! He introduces the namesake of the award, Maltin.
Maltin then says the word we have been waiting for. “Please welcome Denzel Washington!” The crowd stands up wildly clapping in admiration of that one man.
The night proceeds with clips of movies broken up by snatches of conversation between Maltin and Denzel. The clips came from several films he was in including Glory, Much Ado About Nothing, and (his most recent project) Fences. The reasons for his selection for the Maltin Modern Master Award became perfectly clear as we saw his career laid out.
The night is concluded with the presentation of the award. To of the people from the cast of Fences, Stephen McKinley Henderson and Saniyya Sidney, gives a short and heartfelt speak and then hands it to the man we are honoring. Denzel Washington.