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Sean Baker, Kodi Smit-McPhee And Clint Bentley Honored at Key West Film Festival
Sean Baker, Kodi Smit-McPhee And Clint Bentley [Clint Bentley Headshot (Credit: Sony Pictures Classics); Sean Baker Headshot (Credit: Daniel Bergeron); Kodi Smit-McPhee (Credit: Key West Film Festival)]

Key West Film Festival announced the recipient of its annual Golden Key Awards, including two new awards honoring Emerging Talent and Breakthrough Florida director.

This year’s Golden Key Award for Excellence in Filmmaking goes to Sean Baker, director of Red Rocket, opening nationwide in December via A24. Baker will attend in person and participate in a discussion with Carlos Aguilar, film critic for the Los Angeles Times, The Wrap and RogerEbert.com, following the film’s screening. Baker’s film Starlet was featured in the first edition of the Key West Film Festival in 2012.

The inaugural Golden Key for Emerging Talent, given to actors who will be destined to grace our screens for years to come, will be presented to Kodi Smit-McPhee for his breakout role in the Netflix release of Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, which will screen at the festival just as it begins its national theatrical release. Aguilar will host a pre-recorded discussion with Smit-McPhee following the screening, which will serve as the Closing Night film. Smit-McPhee stars alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons, and Kirsten Dunst in the film.

Another inaugural award- the Golden Key for Breakthrough Florida director, recognizing a Florida bred director whose films will be seen widely in the future – will be given to Clint Bentley. A Florida native, Bentley’s Jockey, starring Clifton Collins Jr, will be released by Sony Pictures Classics later this year. The award will be presented by former ESPN anchor Bob Ley following a screening of the film.

Sean Baker is a writer, director, producer and editor who has made seven independent feature films over the course of the past two decades. His most recent film was the award-winning The Florida Project (2017) which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was released by A24 in the U.S. Among the many accolades the film received — including an Oscar nomination for Willem Dafoe for Best Supporting Actor — Sean was named Best Director by the New York Film Critics Circle. His previous film Tangerine (2015) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won an Independent Spirit and two Gotham Awards. Starlet (2012) was the winner of the Robert Altman Independent Spirit Award and his previous two features, Take Out (2004) and Prince of Broadway (2008), were both nominated for the John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award.

Kodi Smit-McPhee is an Australian actor known for his critically acclaimed roles as The Boy in The Road, Owen in Let Me In, Norman Babcock in ParaNorman, Alexander in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Nightcrawler in X-Men: Apocalypse, and Dark Phoenix, and the lead role in the prehistoric film Alpha. Upcoming roles include Jane Campion’s much anticipated The Power Of The Dog, for which he is already generating major Oscar buzz for Best Supporting Actor.

Clint Bentley’s first feature (as co-writer and producer) was Transpecos, a thriller set in the U.S. Border Patrol. He was chosen as one of 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2017 by MovieMaker Magazine. Jockey is his directorial debut, which premiered at Sundance 2021 in US Dramatic Competition and will open theatrically in December. Bentley was raised on a cattle ranch in Florida and graduated from Stetston University in DeLand, FL.

Michael Tuckman, Director of Programming of the Key West Film Festival, “We are elated to present these two new awards to Kodi and Clint, whose work will continue to astound, amaze and inspire audiences for decades to come. Kodi’s performance in “Power” is one that immediately places him among the finest actors of his generation. Clint’s steady and intimate portrait of an aging jockey shows the work of director years beyond his directorial debut. Sean continues his mastery of telling the story of American lives, literally on the other side of the tracks, in Red Rocket as he has been doing since his award-winning “Take Out” first graced the screens.”

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