At age 17, the Savannah Film Festival’s latest award winner is looking at colleges.
Actress Abigail Breslin is very impressed with the Savannah College of Art and Design. “SCAD is an awesome school,” the Discovery Award winner said enthusiastically on Saturday.
“I’d love to go here,” she said. “It’s pretty tough to get into, though.”
2013 SAVANNAH FILM FESTIVAL AWARD WINNERS
Best Documentary: “Brothers Hypnotic”
Best Editing: “Who Shot Rock & Roll”
Best Narrative Feature: “The Pretty One”
Best Director: Jenée LaMarque, “The Pretty One”
Best SCAD Student Competition Award: “Dirt”
Special Jury Award: Excellence in Acting, Emma Thompson, “Walking the Dogs”
Best Animated Film: “The Missing Scarf”
Best Short: “Walking The Dogs”
Silver Screen Society: “Mo Chara”
Best Short Film by a SCAD Student: “Skin”
HBO Films Student Competition Award 2013: “Skin”
HBO Films Producer Award 2013: “Hank and Asha”
Audience Choice Award 2013: “Mayan Blue”
Best Historical Short: “The Most Girl Part of You”
Best SuperShort: “Animation Hotline 2012”
Filmmaker Magazine Award: “Dirt”
Excellence in Production Design: “Wolves From Another Kingdom”
Despite her success — 30 films so far — getting a college degree is important to Breslin. “I hope next year to be going to college and making movies,” she said. “I’m trying to figure out how that can be done.”
Breslin would like to study psychology. “It does help with acting,” she said. “I’ve always been interested by human beings and the human experience. It’s something I definitely want to delve into.”
While in Savannah, Breslin met with SCAD students to discuss acting and filmmaking. “I saw their interest and enthusiasm and passion for the arts,” she said. “Being around people who love the arts is very exciting.”
Accepting the Discovery Award also was exciting, Breslin said. “I’m so honored that they chose me to give it to,” she said.
Several other awards were given on Saturday, the film festival’s final night. Among the winners was SCAD graduate student Amber Hancock, who won the festival’s first Discover the Savannah Film Festival competition.
SCAD president and co-founder Paula Wallace founded the competition, but outside the college, it has received little attention. “It completely flew under the radar,” said Danny Filson, the festival’s executive director.
Contestants wrote and filmed introductions, which were judged by Wallace. For winning, Hancock was allowed to introduce Breslin and present her with the award.
Following the award presentation, “August: Osage County,” in which Breslin has a part, was screened. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts, the widely anticipated dark comedy will be released on Christmas Day with an all-star cast that includes Meryl Streep, Ewan McGregor, Julia Roberts, Sam Shepard and Juliette Lewis.
“It’s about a family brought together during a tragedy,” Breslin said. “It’s about how they’ve changed and how they interact years after they’ve seen each other. It’s very funny.”
When she was only 10, Breslin was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in “Little Miss Sunshine,” the fourth youngest person so honored. “It was all kind of a blur to me, but it was really exciting,” she said.
It was exciting to her mother, too. “You grow up watching the Oscars and like, wow, you’re there,” Kim Breslin said.
Breslin began her film career in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs,” and has appeared in “The Call,” “Rango,” “Zombieland,” “My Sister’s Keeper,” “New Year’s Eve” and “Raising Helen,” among others. She was just five when she won the role in “Signs” and nine when she filmed “Little Miss Sunshine.”
Currently, Breslin can be seen in “Ender’s Game.” She just filmed “Maggie,” a zombie film with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Breslin’s dad.
“It’s a really cool movie about a virus that takes over the world,” she said. “The girl is infected by it and her family is determined to help her. I had a great time making it.”
While Breslin has appeared with some of the biggest names in the film business, her favorite film is “Nim’s Island” because she loved her animal co-stars. “Whatever role I’m working on becomes my favorite at the time,” she said.
Breslin’s older brother, Spencer, also is an actor who has appeared in films such as “Disney’s The Kid,” “The Santa Clause” film sequels, “You Wish!,” “Zoom” and “The Cat in the Hat.” Despite their early fame, the siblings remain firmly grounded because of their mother and father, Michael.
“For us, the secret was we stayed parents,” Kim Breslin said. “The priority was always family. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been problems. It’s always a mix with families.”
In addition to acting, Breslin has other interests and talents. “I’m also interested in music,” she said. “I sing and play guitar. I also write music and am recording an album.”
Whatever college Breslin chooses, her life promises to be very, very busy. “I still want to keep working and writing and singing and writing scripts,” she said. “I want to direct and produce someday.
“I just love being able to portray people that someone can relate to,” Breslin said. “When I feel alone, I watch films. If someone can watch me and feel less alone, that makes me happy.”